Make Your Escape Review

Location: 1st Floor, 4 Osmaston Road, Derby, DE1 2HR (The Spot)
Price: Starts from £15, click here for more info

Recently, me and some of my Journalism coursemates visited Make Your Escape in Derby, part of the Signal group who specializes in escapes room.

Described by the Derby Telegraph as “A Crystal Maze-like game”, it is one of four located in Derby and follows the ever-growing trend of escape rooms, which has increased in popularity since the turn of the new millennium, with approximately 2,800 different locations worldwide; so much so that the inaugural Escape Room World Championship took place at Budapest earlier this year in March.

Statistics collected by Scott Nicholson in 2015 show that 37% of groups have players aged over 21, whilst those aged under 21 is 19%. Furthermore, 14% of players are made up of families containing parents and children, with escape rooms also proving to be popular with corporate clients (19%) and those out on a first date (11%).

A break down of the different types of escape rooms which are avaliable worldwide| Scott Nicholson

The objective of an escape room is simple, as a group of people are given a set amount of time and have to work together by using their skills and mental abilities to solve a number of puzzles and riddles.

The genres of these escapes room can vary, from Science, Fantasy and Horror to one based on the present day or a specific time period.

The escape room we entered was called Spellbound and was based around a Derbyshire legend from the early 1600’s called ‘The Witches of Bakewell’, which is briefly explained in the image below:

The convicted witches were executed in February 1607/8 and were buried at the All Hallows Church in Derby; now known as the All Saints Church in the City Centre and is a short walk away from the games room.

I was intrigued before I saw the escape room as I was only made aware of them as I’d arrived at the facility and wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience.

Once we’d entered and taken off our bags and jackets, we were greeted by Evan Gresham-Webb, a 22-year-old Games Supervisor for Make Your Escape.

After explaining the concept of escape rooms and the aforementioned legend, Evan told us that before we enter the room, that we’d be split into two groups of five and would be blindfolded so that we wouldn’t see anything upon entry and an suspension of disbelief could be maintained.

This for me created an element of eagerness to build as we slowly wondered into the room and waited to take our blindfolds off.

Without giving too much away, the Spellbound room was fairly challenging as the nature of the puzzles weren’t too similar and had their own aura as you attempted them.

Because of this, you are forced into working together as a team, whether that be as a whole or splitting into smaller groups to tackle multiple puzzles simultaneously.

On the other hand, I’m unsure as to what could be done to better the overall experience, although I would say that it did take me a while to embrace the surroundings and get stuck in.

Once I was able to overcome this, I began to notice that I was relishing the challenges around me and became determined to overcome, although in some cases, I wasn’t able to do so.

As a whole, I enjoyed my time at Make Your Escape as it was a new experience and enjoyed more than I thought I would.

I’d say that if you are a fan of puzzles and quizzes, then you’ll definitely enjoy your time here as there is bound to be something that’ll appeal towards your tastes and switch your brain into gear.

Advertisements

Formula One – What’s next for Fernando Alonso?

Above Image: Fernando Alonso is aware his decision regarding next season is crucial in whether his ability to fight at the front|Mark Thompson via Getty Images

At the age of 36, Fernando Alonso is considered to be one of the best drivers in Formula One today, alongside this year’s championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

However, he hasn’t had a car at his disposal which has been capable of allowing the double world champion to compete at the front for a while now.

As the Spaniard desparately tries to regain his zenith, I’ll be analysing what potential options he has avaliable for next year.

Staying with McLaren

Alonso’s return to McLaren has been hard to take for many fans|Autocar

Considering all of the engine failures Alonso has experienced since returning to the Woking based outfit in 2015, sticking it out with McLaren would more than likely result in more frustration for all parties involved.

However, with McLaren’s relationship with Honda seeming heading for a divorce, they’ll be wanting to find a new engine supplier; something Alonso wants if he is to stay.

At the moment, a deal with Renault seems to be the most realistic option avaliable for them, although there are numerous factors which need to be resolved.

For starters, McLaren will need to convince another team – most likely Toro Rosso – to take on the Honda supply in order to free up a Renault supply. 

On the other hand, Honda want to continue on with McLaren despite their struggles and Liberty Media want the Japanese manufacturer to remain in Formula One.

Should McLaren continue with Honda for 2018, it is hard to see Alonso staying, with recent discussion suggesting that he retired out of frustration rather than the loss of power he reported on the team radio at the Belgian Grand Prix.

As a result, McLaren will be wary that if they continue on as they are, then Alonso will be on his way.

Re-Joining Renault

Alonso during the 2009 European Grand Prix at the Valencia Street Circuit|Getty Images via Daily Express

A return to Renault for 2018 would mark Alonso’s third stint with the French manufacturer in Formula One, which saw him win two consecutive world championship in 2005 and 2006, in addition to his association with the infamous Crashgate scandal during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Although it could be argued that they would able to provide more competitive machinery than McLaren, Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul doesn’t feel they can provide Alonso with the race winning car his strongly desires:

“We know that it’s going to take us a bit of time to have a car that can offer that, so clearly the one thing that I would not want is to have a frustrated Fernando in a Renault car, thats for sure.”
Earlier in the year, Alonso was in pictured in the paddock during the Monaco Grand Prix with Alain Prost, who echoed similar thoughts:

“Fernando wants to win races or championships, I don’t think we can offer him a car to be world champion next year – and also maybe in two years.

The Frenchman continued: “We have to be very realistic. I have been in this business for almost forty years and I knoe how difficult it is going to be.”

The second seat at Renault of Joylon Palmer is a highly coveted one, with Robert Kubica, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon all on the radar to partner Nico Hulkenberg next season.

A new start with Williams

A move to Williams would most likely see Alonso replace his former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa|Grand Prix 24/7

The only other competitive option in Formula One for Alonso is a move to the Williams team, which he has been linked with since mid-August.

Customers of the Mercedes engine since the beginning of the hybrid era in 2014, the former world champions are experiencing a slow resurgence – helped partially by the arrival of Paddy Lowe – with Felipe Massa robbed of a potential victory in Azerbaijan with a failed shock absorber.

A driver of Alonso’s caliber would boost Williams’ reputation and could also prove to be beneficial for Lance Stroll in his development.

However, the Martini-sponsored team has denied the possibility, with Team Principal Claire Williams seemingly shocked by the rumors:

“I read that with astonishment. I know nothing about it. I never negotiated with him; never sat at a table with him.”

Moving to Indycar 

Alonso proved many critics wrong during his one-off appearance at the Indianapolis 500|Autoweek

If all else should fail, the alternative would be to go Stateside and contest a season of the Indycar series with Andretti Autosport.

He competed for the team in this year’s Indianapolis 500, impressing everyone by leading 27 laps before his Honda engine expired towards the end.

The possiblity of the move is dependent on the winner of the Indy 500 race, Takuma Sato, and whether he’ll stay with Andretti Autosport or move over to the Rahal Letterman team for next year.

Should the ex-F1 driver choose the latter, in theory, Alonso has an open door to a competitve race seat, albeit in a different racing series. 

Ideally, the Spaniard could use Indycar for a one year sabbatical and wait for a race winning seat in Formula One to become free before returning to the sport and chase a third world championship. 

Regardless, whatever he chooses, iit can be agreed that the motorsport world would like to see Alonso return to the top step of the podium before his imminent retirement; even if his has to go to Indycar to do so.

F1 Dominators – Ferrari 312T

The start of the 1975 Italian Grand Prix; a race won by Ferrari’s Clay Regazzoni (Car No.11)| Rainer W. Schleglmilch via Wikipedia

The Ferrari 312T was introduced to the Formula One grid for the 1975 in response to the team’s inability to compete with the formidable Ford Cosworth DFV, which had developed a monopoly on the world championship for the previous seven years.

Over the course of its six years in Formula One, the 312T started in 90 Grand Prix, winning 27 races, 61 podiums, 19 pole positions and 25 fastest laps.

Designed by Mauro Forghieri, the car possessed a near perfect weight distribution and enhanced the car’s handling characteristics.

This was helped by the inclusion of a trasversale (transverse) five-speed gearbox at the front of the rear-axle, hence the use of the ‘T’ in the car’s name.

The use of an aluminum monocoque chassis included a in-board mounted front suspension and at the rear, the use of double wishbone suspension.

The car itself weighed 575kg, armed with a naturally aspirated, mid engined Flat-12 which produced 500bhp @ 12,200 rpm.

The components of the all-conquering Ferrari 312T| Formula 1 Amarcord

The 312T missed the first two races of the 1975 championship and debuted at the 1975 South African Grand Prix at the hands of Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni.

After only scoring two points across its first two races, the 312T kicked into gear and became a regular at the front, winning six races, five of whom were achieved by Lauda, as the Austrian claimed his first drivers’ title. The Scuderia also claimed their first Constructors’ title since 1964.

In 1976, the 312T was still superior to its competition and won the opening three rounds before Ferrari introduced an updated version; the 312T2.

The changes made to the car saw the airbox which sat behind the cockpit be removed to comply with the regulations and be replaced with air intakes placed on the sides of the cockpit to keep the engine cool.

Adjustments were also made to increase the length of the wheelbase and experiment with the use of a de Rion rear suspension, an idea which would be later abandoned.

Debuting at the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari continued to battle at the front, allowing Lauda to notch up three more wins before his imfamous crash at the Nürburgring during the 1976 German Grand Prix. 

Lauda miraculously returned to the grid for Ferrari’s home race at Monza, and took a heroic fourth place, in spite many fearing for his life after the crash and many believing his Grand Prix career was done.

Niki Lauda pictured driving the Ferrari 312T2 at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring; the scene of the Austrian’s life-changing incident| Grand Prix 24/7

By this point, McLaren’s James Hunt had emerged as Lauda’s main rival in the championship and went down to the season finale at Fuji for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The race was severely delayed due to torrential race and eventually started with poor lighting. 

Lauda retired after three laps, unwilling to risk the chance of having another crash on the scale of one he had at the Nürburgring and allowed Hunt to finish in third and win the Drivers’ title by a solitary point.

For 1977, Regazzoni was replaced by Carlos Reutemann and saw Ferrari use the 312T2B chassis. 

In the early stages of the season, there was little difference between the 312T2 and the 312T2B, but due to Lauda’s struggles with the car saw the team go under an extensive testing programme before the South African Grand Prix.

As a result, several new parts were developed over th year and see variations of the chassis used, as they attempted to overcome their temperature issues with the Goodyear tyres.

The car was still good enough to give Lauda a second drivers’ championship and give Ferrari their third successive constructors’ crown.

Carlos Reutemann at the La Racasse during the 1978 Monaco Grand Prix| Pinterest

However, after securing the championship after the US Grand Prix at Long Beach, Lauda left the team and was replaced by Gilles Villeneuve. 

The Canadian stayed at Ferrari for the 1978 season alongside Reutemann and the team introduced the 312T3 at the 1978 South African Grand Prix. 

The Flat-12 engine in the 312T3 – which Ferrari had been using since 1970 – had been tweaked to produced 515bhp, and saw Ferrari use a new layout for the monocoque and suspension to accomodate their new Michelin tyres.

Furthermore, the bodywork had been modified at the top of the car to utilise the rear wing and improve the aerodynamics towards that area of the car.

However, despite Reutemann’s four wins and breakthough victory for Villeneuve at the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix, the car was no match for the Lotus 79 and its use of ground effects, allowing Mario Andretti to the year as champion, with Ferrari finishing behind Lotus in the Constructors’ championship.

Because of this, Reutemann moved to the Nolfork outfit for 1979 and saw Jody Scheckter drafted into the team.

Jody Scheckter was Ferrari’s last Drivers’ champion for 21 years after his success in 1979| Pinterest

Forghieri developed the 312T4 with the intent of designing a ground effect car similar to that of the Lotus 79, whcih caused limitations on the aerodynamics as it wasn’t originally made with this in mind. 

The 312T4 had a narrow monocoque constructed to maximise its potential and saw their drivers pick up three wins apiece and Scheckter claim the drivers’ title – Ferrari’s last drivers champion until Michael Schumacher won in 2000 – and Ferrari win their fourth constructors’ crown in five years.

The 1980 season though proved to be a year of complete contrast for the Scuderia. 

The 312T4 was developed rigiously over the winter and produced the 312T5, which became less comeptitive as the year wore on.

This was in part due to the the Flat-12 Ferrari were using, as it couldn’t let their designers achieve what they wanted with the aerodynamics and contributed towards the car’s reliablity issues.

At the end of the season, Scheckter retired from Formula One having only managed to score two, and saw Ferrari finish winless for the first time since 1973 and finish 10th in the Constructors’ with a mere eight points.

Gilles Villeneuve during the 1980 Monaco Grand Prix| Pinterest

Champions of the GP2 Series – Where are they now?

Above: The GP2 Series was establish in 2005|SnapLap

After the FIA International Formula 3000 Championship was discontinued after the 2004 season, Formula One needed a new feeder series and got one in the form of the GP2 Series.

Renamed as the FIA Formula Two Championship for 2017, GP2 debuted in 2005 and supported numerous Formula One races, providing exciting races as teams looked for the stars of the future.

However, in recent years, some drivers have struggled to breakthrough with the last champion to move up to Formula One the following year was Romain Grosjean in 2012.

Because of this, I’ll be taking a look at the champions GP2 has produced and briefly look into how successful they were.

2005 – Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg celebrates winning the GP2 title at Bahrain|motorsport.com

Nico Rosberg’s consistency helped the German claim the inaugural GP2 Drivers’ Championship for ART Grand Prix, with five wins and a further seven podiums across the season.

The following year, Rosberg was promoted to Formula One and partnered Mark Webber at Williams, famously setting the lap of the race on his debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

Over time, Rosberg began to feature more regularly in the points and achieved two podiums in 2008 before moving on to Mercedes for 2010. 

Alongside former World Champion Michael Schumacher, Rosberg established himself as the team leader and earning his first Formula One Victory at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix. 

When Schumacher retired, Lewis Hamilton was brought as Mercedes went in search their first championship since returning as a team. 

Over the course of their four year partnership, the two former friends developed a fierce rivalry as they dominated at the front of the field during the Hybrid Era.

In this time, Rosberg recorded a further 22 wins in a closely fought contest and eventually won the World Championship in 2016. 

He promptly retired after, having emulated his father Keke, who himself won the World Championship for Williams in 1982.

2006 – Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton on his way to victory at Monaco feature race in the 2006 GP2 Series|automobilsport.com

For 2006, ART Grand Prix drafted in Lewis Hamilton, who repaid them by winning five times and stepping onto the podium a further nine time his way to the crown.

The McLaren junior was promoted to Formula One to partner double World Champion Fernando Alonso and, to the surprise of many, was fairly competitive all year before both of them narrowly missed on the championship to Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen at Interlagos by a solitary point.

The following year, Hamilton made up the near miss and won his first Drivers’ title by one single point, having passed Toyota’s Timo Glock on the final lap at the same track.

He remained with McLaren until the end of the 2012 season, with a second world championship still eluding him and joined Nico Rosberg at Mercedes.

The two were closely matched, and saw Hamilton secure his second and third Drivers’ Championships in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Despite losing out to Rosberg in 2016, Hamilton is the most successful graduate of the GP2 Series, with 57 Grand Prix wins and 110 Podiums at the time of press.

For 2017, he is currently second in the Formula One World Championship behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, with new team-mate Valtteri Bottas in third.

2007 – Timo Glock 

Timo Glock celebrates his title win in Valencia|motorsport.com

The 2007 GP2 Series saw Timo Glock win the title, having also won five races and five podiums for iSport International.

Glock had prior Formula One experience before joining GP2, having made an appearance for Jordan at the 2004 Canadian Grand Prix – where he finished seventh – and finishing eighth in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.

Glock was given another shot at Formula One with Toyota in 2008 alongside veteran Jarno Trulli, achieved three podiums during his two year stay before the Japanese manufacturer pulled out of the sport.

This left Glock to seek refugee with new newcomers Virgin, spending three years there without success.

For 2013, the German moved to BMW in the highly competitive DTM series, with three race wins and an additional four podiums at the time of press.

2008 – Giorgio Pantano

Giorgio Pantano during the Spanish round of the 2008 GP2 Series at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona|Speedsport Magazine

Like Glock before him, Giorgio Pantano also had prior Formula One experience with Jordan in 2004.

Unfortunately for the Italian, he failed to record a points finish from his 15 Grand Prix starts, with a two best finishes of 13th.

Joining 2005, it Pantano until his fourth attempt to win the title, with four wins and three more podiums for Racing Engineering but was unable to return to the Formula One grid.

Consequently, Pantano had to go elsewhere to continue racing and competed in the 2009 Superleague Formula and the 2010 Auto GP Series with mixed results, before contesting in the Blancpain GT Series as recently as 2014.

2009 – Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg claimed the GP2 title in his debut season|SnapLap

Before his successful debut season in GP2, Nico Hulkenberg contested in the 2006/07 A1 Grand Prix for Team Germany, winning nine times and securing a further five podiums on his way to the title.

He carried this momentum into the Formula Three Euro Series, winning 11 times over the course of the 2007 and 2008 campaigns, claiming the Drivers’ Championship for ART Grand Prix in the latter.

The team then moved him into their GP2, and Hulkenberg continued to show promise, with five wins and five podiums on his way yet another championship.

This caught the eye of a struggling Williamd, who give him his Formula One debut alongside the experienced Rubens Barrichello and he repaid them by qualifying on Pole for the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix on a drying track.

However, he was dropped at the end of the season and spent 2011 as a test driver for Force India, before racing for them the following year.

A brief stint at Sauber saw Hulkenberg outperform the car regularly and cause the German to be constantly be linked with a move to Ferrari, but to no avail. 

To date, Hulkenberg has yet to achieve a podium in Formula One in spite of his consistency, although he did go on to win the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans for Porscge alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.

2010 – Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado set a then-record of six wins in the 2010 GP2 Series|GPUpdate.net

Before his title winning campaign for Rapax in 2010, Pastor Maldonado had shown flashes of pace which as mixed together with a frustrating level of inconsistency and a tendency to crash on occasion

However, the Venezuelan managed six victories and another two podiums to claim the championship and earn a seat at Williams for the 2011 Formula One Season.

Aside from his unexpected race win at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, Maldonado struggled to make an impression and was criticised for his off-track excursions, leading to the term ‘Crashtor’.

He then spend two years with Lotus, backed by the millions of the state-backed PDVSA oil company with the occasional top ten finish. 

At the time of press, Maldonado isn’t racing although he explore the possibility of joining IndyCar and claimed to have turned down a seat for this year as it wasn’t competitive.

2011 – Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean cherishes a race win at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium|motorsport.com

Following a handful of race wins in GP2 – including winning the 2008 GP2 Asia Series Championship – Romain Grosjean was promoted to Renault’s Formula One team in 2009 to replace Nelson Piquet Jr.

However, the Frenchman failed to score any points and rejoined the series for 2010, and also competed in that year’s Auto GP Series and won the Drivers title despite missing the first four races. 

2011 was a dominate year for Grosjean, winning 11 races in the GP2 Championship and the Asia Series on his year to both titles.

The Frenchman was rewarded with a Formula One a drive at Lotus alongside the returning Kimi Räikkönen and regularly featured in the points, including three podium finishes.

However, this form was overshadowed by his involvement in the first lap crash at the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix and resulted Grosjean recieving a one race ban.

For 2013, Grosjean added six more podiums to his name but a debut win was out of reach and his consistency began to decline as Lotus’ form dropped and the team suffered financial difficulties.

This led Grosjean to sign up to Haas for 2016 in the hope that would help aid a dream move to the Ferrari.

He finished sixth on the teams debut in Australia before going one better at the following race in Bahrain and is currently looking to up the field in search of that elusive first win.

2012 – Davide Valsecchi

Davide Valsecchi on the podium after taking victory in Bahrain|Andy’s GP Blog

Before his title winning campaign in 2012, Davide Valsecchi’s record in the junior categories didn’t really stand out in the early stages of his career.

It was until the 2009/10 GP2 Asia Series that the Italian started to make a breakthrough, winning three races and the championship with iSport International.

A Formula One test with Hispana Racing followed at the end of 2010, producing an impressive display and earning a testing role for Team Lotus in 2011.

Valsecchi eventually won the GP2 championship in 2012 for DAMS, claiming three victories and an additional six podium finishes.

Valsecchi was given a Testing role with Lotus Renault GP for the 2012 season, and was snubbed in favour of Heikki Kovalainen after Kimi Räikkönen was forced to miss the final two races of the year with a back injury.

As a result, he never got his break in the sport and moved to the GT Open series with Lamborghini more recently has taken up interview duties for Formula One.

2013 – Fabio Leimer

Fabio Leimer after a hard fought championship victory in 2013|Alcherton

Fabio Leimer was competitve in GP2 from the get go, winning his first sprint race of the 2010 season at Barcelona. 

Over time, the Swiss driver slowly developed consistency and went on to win the championship 2013, taking three wins alongside four third place finishes.

However, without a competitive seat avaliable on the Formula One grid, Leimer spent 2014 in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Rebellion Racing.

The following year, he became the reserve driver for Manor Marussia following an aborted Super Formula campaign and also made a brief appearance for Virgin Racing in the FIA Formula E Championship. 

2014 – Jolyon Palmer 

Joylon Palmer during the Britsh round of the 2014 GP2 Season at Silverstone|Jake Archibald

The son of former Formula One driver Jonathan Palmer, Jolyon started competing in motorsport from an early age in the hopes of emulating his father.

In 2012, Jolyon was the runner-up in the FIA Formula Two Championship – not to be confused with the existing championship – before his GP2 title win in 2014 with DAMS, picking up four wins and a further seven podiums.

2015 was spent as a test driver for Lotus before his was promoted to race for the renamed Renault team the following year alongside Kevin Magnussen. 

To date, Jolyon has only achieved one points finish in Formula One, with a tenth place at the 2016 Malaysia Grand Prix.

2015 – Stoffel Vandoorne 

Stoffel Vandoorne takes the chequered flag on his way to winning the GP2 title|The Chequered Flag

Stoffel Vandoorne’s racing career initally started slowly as a low budget limited the number of races he could enter.

However, the Belgian’s talent shone through and after winning the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2012 , he joined the McLaren Driver Academy. 

His instantly challeneged in GP2, finishing second in debut campagin in 2014 before taking the title following year for ART Grand Prix, with 11 wins across the two seasons.

For 2016, he made McLaren’s reserve driver and made a one off appearance at Bahrain after Fernando Alonso wasn’t cleared to race following a heavy crash in Australia.

Despite qualifying behind team-mate Jenson Button, Vandoorne picked up the team’s first points finish of the year with tenth place.

He spent the rest of the year in Super Formula and recorded two race wins on his way to fourth in the drivers’ standings before rejoining McLaren for 2017, adding another tenth place finish in Hungary.

McLaren have also announced that Vandoorne will remain in the team for 2018.

2016 – Pierre Gasly 

Pierre Gasly exits the pit lane at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia|FTA Sport

Pierre Gasly joined single-seater comeptition in 2011 and claimed his first championship in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series in 2013. 

The following year, Gasly was second in the Formula Renault 3.5 series and competed in three rounds of the GP2 Series for Caterham Racing.

After joining GP2 full time, the Red Bull junior became a regular at the front of the field and won 2016 Championship for Prema Racing, with four wins and five further podiums.

This year, Gasly is competiting in the Super Formula, winning the most recent round in Motegi to move into third in the drivers’ championship and has been linked with a move up to Formula One with Toro Rosso for the 2018 season.

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.