CHN Sat 268Measuring the newly-retired Alexander Wurz by his statistics is pointless. During a decade on the Formula 1 trail, the towering Austrian never threatened the record books with championships or wins. The 41-year-old was a perennial challenger in sports cars, finishing a career-best third in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship with Toyota, but when it comes to earning titles, Wurz was rarely in a position to dominate in prototypes—or F1—to the degree his talent deserved.

And yet, in the absence of gaudy stats and metrics, Wurz earned the kind of respect normally reserved for heroes of the sport. He leaves the cockpit with two overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, arguably his career-defining accomplishments in almost 30 years of active competition, along with the unyielding esteem of those who raced against the man or worked alongside him.

It's in the reverie expressed by the likes of Dario Franchitti, Allan McNish, Davy Jones, and recent teammate Anthony Davidson where that deeply-held regard becomes apparent. Franchitti and Wurz are close friends who rose from the European open-wheel ranks in the mid-1990s; Wurz and McNish are neighbors in Monaco, and as rivals in LMP1 - Allan with Audi and Alex with Peugeot and Toyota - the two were responsible for incredibly fierce racing. Jones and Wurz shared their first wins at La Sarthe with the Joest Porsche program in 1996, and Davidson raced against Wurz in F1 before they were partnered at Peugeot and Toyota.

The four men welcomed the opportunity to share insights about Wurz after his retirement was announced and together, they add even more depth to an individual who rates among one of the most talented drivers of his generation, not to mention one of the most cherished personalities in the sport.

 SBL7668DARIO FRANCHITTI on meeting Wurz for the first time:
"I first met Wurzy when I signed the DTM contract with Mercedes [for 1995]. I had to go up to the fitness camp in Austria. Everybody else was already there and I had to go later. I showed up at this hotel, and the next morning, I had my breakfast and I took the 'stairs to the heavens.' It's 1000 stairs or something, and you had to run up and down it. I get there and there's this tall gangly kid, who's Austrian. Had a pretty good command of English, certainly better than my German. Here's this statue, who walked up, looked down, and said 'my name is Alex...' I was like, OK...I didn't know what to expect.

"I spent the next two days trying to keep up with this bugger running up and down these stairs; puking at the top. I watched him go from that kid who went from Formula 3 to DTM and then F1 in, like, three years. That's pretty special on its own."

ALLAN McNISH on meeting and getting to know Wurz:
"Going back, I've known Alex since I was involved in sportscars, actually, because my first-ever test with Porsche back in 1997 was at Paul Ricard and he was testing as well. Basically, I jumped out of the car, he jumped in, he jumped out of the car and I jumped in. That was a sight.

"Then he went off to Mercedes and I signed up to do Porsche with the GT1. So we bumped into each other quite a lot in our first foray into sports cars, which was quite a bizarre situation, really. I think there's two sides to him. He's a structured, Austrian-minded, prepared, workaholic racing driver. People recognize that  Y2Z8576he was the one that that made the difference winning Le Mans in 2009 (RIGHT), much to, I would say, the annoyance of Peugeot, who clearly wanted the other car with the French drivers to win. Alex was mastermind to get the most out of that situation and have success because he was that good, but also he was working every angle to win.

"The guy was always a little bit different as well. Even though he had that Austrian sort of straightforward mentality where he said exactly what he thought, in the clearest nonpolitical way, he also was slightly different in terms that he wore two boots of a different color, which, to be honest, I don't get. And a balaclava with two eyeholes as opposed to the normal big open-face one the rest of us use. And just the massive enjoyment he would take in painting his own helmet. It was like the wires were connected a little bit different with him and they shorted themselves ..." [laughs]

WEC Bahrain Saturday 026McNISH on racing against Wurz:
"He's massively competitive. And he does dig deep when he needs to. There's been occasions through the course of time where we had quite a few coffee mornings when it was just the two of us on a Sunday tearing through what we'd just gone through at a race.

"I remember us walking back together, actually, after a stint at Sebring, and he was like, well, that was a bloody s**t race. He goes into one room and I go into the other. We agree on Tuesday morning to meet up at the coffee shop after the school run. We dissected it all at the table and whatever else.

"And I appreciated that honesty of him. I could never ask him for more than a centimeter on the track, but I couldn't ask for a better character off the circuit as well. Honest, direct. That is something I very much appreciated. When it was on the circuit, it was no quarter given; when it was off the circuit, it was like we never did any racing, there was no competitive element to it between us."

Sil03FRANCHITTI on Wurz's notorious parties:
"His 40th birthday was fun. That involved me losing my phone in the harbor in Monaco  ...  that was a massive night! Wurzy is a fun guy, and I don't know if fans got to see that side of him like we're able to. He's one of those guys when he is having fun, whatever he does he does 100 percent. His parties, whether it was his 40th or any of the ones that [his wife] Julia and him had at the house, it was 100 percent."

FRANCHITTI on when Wurz isn't partying...
"When he's racing, he's 100 percent serious. He's an operator as well; he's got so many fingers in so many pies now, the business side of the sport too. He's the leader of the Grand Prix Drivers Association; he has his training business ... Outside the sport, he's the same type of personality: always working on something, always advancing something. Whether he's driving or cycling or handling business, there's no mucking about."

ANTHONY DAVIDSON on Wurz's pending retirement and eventual news:
"He was never going to lie to us if we asked him direct question, and I could just sense it as well, that he was not enjoying it as much and his mind was somewhere else. It wasn't a massive surprise to hear the news. He did the right thing, as always, he let his teammates know before he let the world know. So that was cool. We all kept quiet and went along with it. Gave him time. He always does things the right way.

"He will be certainly missed as part of the immediate car crew. I'm not sure what he's going to do, if he is going to stay around at the track or whatever. I'm sure he'll decide in due course. That's the one thing about him, he's an honest guy, he says it how it is, whether you like to hear it or not, and he'll do whatever's best."

VI5L0270DAVIDSON on Wurz's height and his own lack of physical stature:
"He hates it. At least that's what he tells me. Maybe he's trying to make me feel good about all the height I don't have! He's always felt uncomfortable being so tall. Like a lot of tall people, they seem to become the center of attention whenever they are in a crowd. And I don't think he's that comfortable with it. But he uses it cleverly. Big person, comes across with authority ... he uses it well, I would say.

"He always felt uncomfortable and he would look at a photo of us three at Peugeot, Marc Gene, me and him standing alongside each other, and say, 'Oh, God, look how tall I look, that's ridiculous.' And I would say, 'yeah, but look at how small I look, that is ridiculous!' It was funny, we had a lot of fun with that.

"Just before qualifying once, we were about to go out, and the mechanics who had ballasted the cars up for set up, had one bag on the floor that said 25 Kg (55lb). I picked it up because I knew that was the difference between us two in weight. And I gave him the bag and said, 'bloody hell, Alex, imagine that, that is the weight difference between you and I!' He just threw it down: 'I don't need to be reminded ... ' And we had a laugh. It was little things like that. We could joke about it and it was really cool."

FRANCHITTI on Wurz's ... Austrian-ness:
"There was a situation where there was I think eight of us, out riding, a bunch of drivers of different formulas. A couple of pro cyclists. And this white van comes up and almost hits us, so Wurzy and our friend Harry tore off after the driver. I thought, 'crikey, if they catch this guy ...'

Anyway, we get to the top of the hill and they're standing there out of breath. And Harry, the mad Irishman, was going to give this guy a punch. Wurzy was telling us no, that he was going to quote European law to him, that if a group more than six cyclists is together they have to ride side-by-side ...

"I'm thinking, 'right, Wurzy, that will terrify him'. I think Harry had the right idea, but Wurzy felt reciting laws of the road was what he really needed. We had a good laugh at him on that one. They make them different in Austria."

DAVIDSON on having Wurz as a teammate:
"He was a really good. Whoever his teammate was, he totally was on your side. He would never fool with you, he was always on your side, defend you right to the end. If anything happened out on the circuit, it was never your fault, it was always a third party that got involved. He would never point blame at you. I learned a lot from him in that respect during my Peugeot days with him. I still abide to that today with Sebastian [Buemi] and Kazuki [Nakajima]; even with Nicholas Lapierre. Alex would never place blame, which is astounding."

WEC Bahrain Saturday2 010McNISH on the next generation of racing Wurzs:
"The area of Alex that I have always liked and enjoyed is he has a fantastic marriage with Julia. They're kind of chalk and cheese, if you like, but they just work together. As a family, he will do anything with the boys. He's got those three boys, they are little mini Alexes in terms of they're massively outgoing.

One of them is 11 years old, he's in the same class as [McNish's son] Finley. I will tell you what, I went out with that kid and he is fast. He has a competitive little instinct. Like I said, it's like mini little Wurzes. I'm pretty sure they will be starting to drive at some point, not too far away. I don't know what he will be doing, but I think they will be around the circuits as the boys get older."

FRANCHITTI on the news of Wurz's retirement:
"It's funny watching someone like that retire, from a personal point of view, because I've known him pretty much his whole racing career, and to see him retire is like, sh*t, I am getting old! We're getting old!

"I would've loved to have driven at Le Mans last year [with Porsche] before I retired, but I'm completely happy. And I like the fact that Wurzy has done it on his own terms as Allan [McNish] did. Actually, one of them is 6 '5" and Alan is 5 foot nothing! Stature-wise, they are very different. But you might say they are very, very similar. In fact, they are neighbors and friends, which adds to it. They both have a very similar outlook to life. They both understand that there is so much more outside the cockpit.

"And I don't think we've seen the last of him suited up and driving. I know he's restoring one of his dad's rally cars. Alex's dad rallied a Lancia Stratos, which had a very special engine because Stratos is a V6 and was normally 2.4 liters, and this thing was bored out to three liters. I'm hoping to see Wurzy drive that at some point, and I think that would be part of his fun, go out and play on that as well.
"It's a shame to see him stop on one hand, but it's good to see him just doing it on his own terms."

DAVIDSON on Wurz's work ethic:
"That is one thing Alex had from word go. He was such a hard worker: people can see that from the outside, he's such a hard grafter, the work he does with the GPDA, the way he uses Twitter and social media, he's always active. He's always thinking of how to improve some situation. Not even a situation he's necessarily involved with. His brain is always ticking. It is quite clear to see he is a pretty shrewd businessman as well. A skill that many a race driver would never be able to learn, he's got that. So he's got this kind of business mindset.

"The two combined, him behind the wheel and the way that he could always see the bigger picture in terms of it was more than a sport, it was a business as well. That really made him quite unique. That is certainly a skill I do not possess."

97 CAN03McNISH on Wurz's talent as a F1 driver:
"I'm always reticent to rank people against others, but what I can say is that when he was coming through with the momentum he had at Benetton (ABOVE), I don't think he could ever be in a winning situation, even if the car was good, because the politics of the team at the time with [team manager] Flavio Briatore.

"As a general rule, he didn't get the breaks that he probably should've had. He was very loyal to McLaren through their time together, and I think that was a very positive part of Alex. He's extremely loyal. And they were loyal back with the testing they had him doing, but it was something that I think he probably missed an opportunity in other racing roles because he wasn't going to leave them first.

"When he came to Williams, the fact that they wanted to still keep him in different roles and guises said a lot about his value in Formula 1. They appreciated what he had brought to the party, and it went well beyond only driving. But, ultimately, the results he had didn't herald the successes that his talent deserved."

 SBL9650DAVIDSON on racing with Wurz and all it entails:
"I'm glad that he turned his hand to sports cars, that I had the chance to drive with him, and win races with him. We should have won Le Mans together. We won Sebring together. That was my first race in Peugeot. We won many individual races in the ILMC as well.

"I'm really glad I had the time to drive with him and to learn from him, and to have fun with them. There's something people probably don't realize from the outside, he comes across as a very astute, lanky Austrian. Feet firmly on the ground. But he is actually a bloody good giggle as well. Away from the limelight, he's a bloody good giggle.

"And he's very dry. He's got a good handle on the British sense of humor. His wife is British, so he's really got a good handle on the fine details of the British twisted sense of humor. And he can pick up on my humor as well, and react to it, whereas a lot of the other guys don't.

"It's constant, all day, if he's in the right mood, which he normally is. But he can be quite grumpy, that's one thing I think he openly admits. He can be quite a grumpy so and so. But that's normally, ironically, when he gets the best out of himself in the car.

"He's quite a complex bloke. He can be his own worst enemy, or it can completely work for him. It can be the making of him. And he's such an analytical guy like I am. He's constantly analyzing himself, and we analyze, sometimes we sit down and analyze him together, which is really cool. I've never been able to do that with a teammate, ever.

"I think it was after Bahrain two years ago, in 2013, when we were fighting hard for the victory, and I think he had an engine failure behind Sarrazin in the race so we went on to win that race on our car. He should have won in his, but didn't. We came back and we had the winner's trophy, doused in champagne and everything. Feeling pretty good. We walked into the driver's room and he was in there, fed up, grumpy, like you would expect. But he was maybe a bit worse than normal, actually.
I remember saying to him, 'come on, join us.' He said some throwaway comment. And I said, 'don't be so grumpy.' And he just looked at me and he said, 'no, I am allowed to be grumpy, give me this time, please. I'm allowed to be grumpy!' And I said, 'okay, fair enough!'"

DAVY JONES on partnering with Wurz, the rookie, at Le Mans
"When I think of Alex I think of when we tested for the first time at Paul Ricard, around April, for Le Mans in 1996. It was all the drivers: Myself, Manuel Reuter, Michele Alboreto, Pierluigi Martini, Didier Theys, and Alex. My team was Reuter, Martini, and myself, and Alex was in the other. We were there a couple of days, I got to know him, he was young, and I was new to the Joest situation, but had been to Le Mans a bunch of times, and it was really great working with him at that test and feeling out how his mind worked getting ready for his first go at Le Mans.

96 LM 67"We'd talk about something on the car, and then he'd go right out and do it. It was really impressive how his approach was; he learned so fast. So I went to Mr. Joest and asked if he could move Alex over to our car because I thought we'd have a better chance of winning with him there. I'd done a lot of 24-hour races, and it's about working together as a team, it isn't about egos. It's about making that car think the same person's driving it for 24 hours, and to do that, all the drivers have to be on the same page and I knew Alex would help us do that. Mr. Joest understood that, he got that, and moved Alex over and put Pierluigi in the other car.

"Pierluigi put his car on the pole, and led early, but they hit trouble and it was up to us to win. Alex had never been to Le Mans before, but you'd never known he was a rookie. To realize you've shown the world your talent and ability in your first time there, to get a win, was something he deserved and he went on to do so much more."

DAVIDSON on Wurz's F1 career:
"It's funny, we always play him up and we know that he had the most successful Formula 1 career out of the guys at Toyota. He scored multiple podiums in cars that shouldn't have even been on the podium.

"He has always been, as a racer, able to survive in any tricky circumstance. The one that really stands out for me, because I was racing in that race, was Nürburgring in 2007 (BELOW), where it suddenly chucked it down with rain from out of nowhere. Everyone went off in Turn 1, and he managed to survive that. He was battling right at the sharp end for a lot of the race. He drove a great race there.

"Always in any kind of tricky situation he would normally come out of it okay. He was a bit of a survivor, really, in Formula 1. He had speed and he could turn that on quite quickly, effortlessly, without much practice. HYY8P5639e definitely had natural feel, I would say, for where the grip was when he hadn't had much time to practice.

"He would always be quick straight away. And still is today, he's straight out-of-the-box fast; new circuit, he's on it straight away. That is one thing he had in Formula 1. When he stepped into the McLaren at Imola in 2005 (ABOVE, as a replacement for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya), he got a podium from just stepping in as a reserve driver and being right on it. That's what comes to mind with Alex; when he had a car, a proper car, he was up with the best in Formula 1.

"Races like Imola really stand out to me because I know - I've been in that position myself - how hard that is. Even though he knew the car from all his testing, it's still not the same stepping into the thing when you're halfway through a season and everybody else is in the full swing of things and you just jump in for one weekend. That's not easy. To score a podium under those circumstances was a lot of pressure, and he would always seem to survive those pressured situations.

Clearly, there was a lot of skill there. I think apart from those McLaren days, he really didn't have the equipment to show exactly what he could do."

McNISH on the recent spate of sports car driver retirements:
"I think all of us are a similar age with a similar timespan in the sport. Myself, Tommy boy [Tom Kristensen], Dindo [Capello], and now Alex. I suppose there's a point where you run out of energy. Alex said something that I can totally, I can 100 percent understand when he said, when he was leading last year - which was his year to win Le Mans again; he should have three titles. They were leading that one, lost it in cruel fashion, and he said that one hurt, which I can understand. Le Mans can take it out of you there.

"But I think that, ultimately, it becomes, it just becomes a point where has a very sane, logical view of his world and Alex and I are quite similar in this. He makes very clear and conscious decisions and you can take away the romantic emotional opinions and reasons to give it another go, or you can realize the time is now and decide to make that change now. And you also have got a lot of opportunity around the corner, and that is something I think Alex is well-equipped to have a very long career in the sport away from actually just wearing the helmet."

DAVIDSON on how to extract the best performances from Wurz:
"I would always try to make him angry! Yeah, I would always try and wind him up, somehow. It wasn't easy because he is quite cool, quite a cool cat. But if you could just make him ... normally politics would wind him up. There was always some kind of political problem on the team or by the teammates; something someone said that would darken his mood.

"It was like, he would normally get himself into a real tiz, basically, because of some situation and then you would see fireworks from him. He wouldn't even know where it came from.

So these kinds of moments were Wurzy at his best. I got to see that a couple of times. They really stood out. That was pretty cool to watch. I would always try to make him a bit angry. I kind of knew in the end, and even today as a competitor in the other car, I can see when he's on it or when he's going to be on it, sometimes even before he realizes that he's going to be on it. He's right there, and he's glowing mad. It was brilliant."

McNISH on Wurz's achievements as he prepares for the next chapter:
"I'll tell you what, he's a multi-talented character, if you stop and realize he also painted his own helmet then raced with it. He was BMX champion, Le Mans winner, all the various other bits and pieces that he's done. Never mind he's not a bad husband by any sense of things, and a pretty bloody good father. He's done all right for himself. Despite the fact that he's Austrian, he's done okay for himself."

WEC Bahrain Saturday 021

LAT labounty Pocono 0815 00352What will you remember the 2015 IndyCar season for? Juan Pablo Montoya's teflon coating wearing off right at the time he needed it most? The introduction of the aero kits, several years after they were first mooted? Rocky Moran Jr.'s inspiring hour of track time at Long Beach?

To try to make sense of it all, RACER's Marshall Pruett, Robin Miller and Mark Glendenning asked each other some searching questions about all of 2015's regulars, which for the purpose of this review, includes anyone who started a minimum of half the races. Look for new installments every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

2015 starts: 16

2015 best finish: 2nd (Texas, Fontana)
2015 championship position: eigth; 431pts

Provided TK has the same engineer and crew members around him, can he pose a more consistent threat to Dixon as Ganassi's top dog?

MARSHALL PRUETT: Tony can absolutely pose a more consistent threat to Dixon next year—and he actually spent most of 2015 mirroring his championship-winning teammate's performances. TK's well-known weakness has been in qualifying where poor starts have necessitated daring passes to make up ground, but he turned a page last season, and only started outside the top-12 on two occasions. He started eighth or better 11 times, and had an average starting position of 7.6. Dixon's average of 6.1 was better, yet wasn't light years ahead of TK.

It all points to Kanaan doing a better job of maximizing his overall performances—from Friday through Sunday, and when it comes to the areas where he can gain ground on Dixon, luck would go a long way to bridge the gap in the standings.

TK's supreme skills as an oval driver have never been questioned, yet the Brazilian recorded three of his four worst finishes on ovals thanks to contact and mechanical issues. Minus the uncharacteristic bad days at Indy (P26), Iowa (P21), and Pocono (P19), and Tony would be much higher up in the points.

The takeaway for me from TK's 2015 is he and engineer Todd Malloy settled in right away, became a threat at most events, and were much closer to Dixon than an eighth-place result in the standings might imply. The threat is already there.

lat abbott texas 0615 9287Did Kanaan do enough vindicate to another season in one of the frontline Ganassi cars?

ROBIN MILLER: Of course the stat that jumps out at you is that nine drivers won a race in 2015 and T.K. wasn’t one of them. But it wasn’t because he wasn’t fast enough. On the contrary, he led seven races for 213 laps (fourth overall) and nobody was any quicker on the ovals. But his pace on road and street circuits was also good as his average starting spot was seventh. As shown at Fontana, Kanaan still has the fire and stones to put it all on the line and three podiums belie how racy this 40-year-old veteran truly was in 2015. He’s the most popular driver because of his personality but his drive runs a close second and he definitely earned the right to stay in #10.

Was Kanaan’s winless year a simple product of it being such an unusually close season, or was there something more fundamental going on?

MARK GLENDENNING: It was just one of those years. There were a few weekends where Kanaan had the pace to win; it just never came together for whatever reason. OK, so finishing his second season with Ganassi one place lower than last year with 112 fewer points doesn’t look awesome on the surface, especially when you take into account that there was one less double-points race in 2015.

But raw numbers can have a way of skewing reality. Kanaan was a monster on road and street courses this year: despite the lack of wins - and a solitary road/street podium - he still out-scored everybody in the field except Scott Dixon, Will Power and Juan Pablo Montoya at those venues. His oval numbers were skewed by a couple of single-car crashes (at Indy and Pocono) and what looked like an engine failure (at Iowa). The remaining three ovals yielded second-places at Texas and Fontana, and a sixth at Milwaukee. Not bad.

In a season rife with quirks, the fact that Kanaan performed as well as he did and only finished with three podiums is one of the strangest statistics of all.

lat feistman poc 0822 00206

Missed one of the earlier reviews? You can go back and read them here:


Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Abu Dhabi GP 2015

In-form Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg returned to the top of the times in second practice for the final Formula 1 grand prix of the season in Abu Dhabi.

Rosberg's three-time champion teammate Lewis Hamilton had led the way come the conclusion to the initial 90-minute session at the Yas Marina circuit by 0.141 seconds over Rosberg.

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Following the opening stint on the softs in practice two, Hamilton again held sway over Rosberg, but come the switch to Pirelli's super-softs, the German managed to turn the tables.

Rosberg, who has claimed the last five straight poles and won the last two grands prix, posted the only sub 1m42s lap of the day. The 30-year-old finished with a time of 1m41.983s, 0.138s clear of Hamilton, the Briton then half-a-second ahead of surprise frontrunner Sergio Perez's Force India. The Mexican's session finished 20 minutes early, however, due to a brake issue.

After deciding to ditch the upgraded Renault engine tested by Daniel Ricciardo over the course of the last race in Brazil and revert back to an old spec, Red Bull put up a strong showing. Ricciardo finished fourth quickest, 0.664s behind Rosberg and just a fraction down on Perez, with teammate Daniil Kvyat a further 0.151s adrift in sixth.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel sandwiched the Red Bull pair, just over seven tenths of a second behind Rosberg, with teammate Kimi Raikkonen seventh.

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso in his McLaren both finished within a second of Rosberg in eighth and ninth. Pastor Maldonado completed the top 10, albeit half a second adrift of Alonso, and 1.448s behind Rosberg, but another half a second up on his teammate Romain Grosjean.

Williams's Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa could only manage 11th and 12th, the duo finishing marginally behind Maldonado.

Toro Rosso pair Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. also find themselves low on the pecking order in 13th and 14th, with McLaren's Jenson Button two seconds down in 16th, just over a second off Alonso.

As per usual, Manor occupied the bottom two positions. Will Stevens headed returnee teammate Roberto Merhi by over half a second, albeit with the Briton 4.467s behind Rosberg.


1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m41.983ss 1m41.983s 39
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m42.121ss 0.138s 31
3 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m42.610ss 0.627s 23
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m42.647ss 0.664s 37
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m42.717ss 0.734s 35
6 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m42.798ss 0.815s 34
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m42.849ss 0.866s 36
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m42.928ss 0.945s 35
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m42.955ss 0.972s 31
10 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m43.431ss 1.448s 37
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m43.441ss 1.458s 32
12 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m43.506ss 1.523s 33
13 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m43.662ss 1.679s 40
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1m43.854ss 1.871s 20
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m43.929ss 1.946s 27
16 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m44.050ss 2.067s 32
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m44.116ss 2.133s 37
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m45.245ss 3.262s 28
19 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1m46.450ss 4.467s 35
20 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 1m47.022ss 5.039s 27


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JL2 8566Mercedes believes Formula 1's new exhaust rules for 2016 will succeed in making the engines sound louder next season.

The latest generation of turbocharged F1 engines have come in for criticism for being too quiet, and rulemakers have evaluated ways to produce more noise from the exhausts. Changes were announced earlier this year for 2016, with the engines' exhaust systems having to feature one or two additional tailpipes for the turbo's wastegates.

Opinion is divided on how much of a difference the changes will make, but Mercedes engine chief Andy Cowell believes there will be more "volume" from the engines next year.

"It will enhance the sound; it will tidy it up," Cowell said. "At the moment we've got the main tailpipe coming out of the rear of the turbine, and the wastegate tees into that, so there's just one pipe coming out of the back.

"That tee piece acts as a dead-end on the main tailpipes – a side branch resonator, which will affect the frequency of the sound in the main tailpipe. Taking that out will clean up the quality of the sound, and improve the volume of the main tailpipe as well."


Originally on


Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, Brazilian GP 2015, Interlagos

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has confirmed the team has a power unit agreement in place for the 2016 Formula 1 season.

After a summer of uncertainty over its engine supply, Red Bull's only fallback option was reuniting with current partner Renault. It now appears a new deal has been done with the French manufacturer, which in turn is hoping to become a works team again next season as it completes a takeover of Lotus.

"Next year will be a transitional year," Horner said. "We have an agreement with an engine [supplier] for next year which hopefully will be confirmed in the coming days. It will have a development path, which ironically, in a way, is what we were trying to achieve 12 months ago, and we'll see how that goes."

Red Bull's future has been up in the air for a number of months after it initially decided to withdraw from its supply contract with Renault a year ahead of schedule. The team turned to Mercedes, only for the German manufacturer to decide against supplying a major rival. Red Bull then held discussions with Ferrari, but the Scuderia also chose not to help, while the prospect of a tie-up with Honda was rejected by McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis.


Originally on

Jeff Gordon and Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says he would like to try a one-off NASCAR race in the future and believes grand prix racing can learn a lot from it.

Hamilton attended last weekend's Sprint Cup finale at Homestead to support Jeff Gordon in the NASCAR legend's farewell event (pictured). Gordon and Hamilton became friends after a chance meeting in Nashville a few years ago.

"There were definitely some things that for sure they do a lot better than us," said Hamilton of his NASCAR experience. "There were for sure things that we could learn from them.

"It was a great show, a great spectacle, particularly for the fans. A bit like DTM – the fans get very, very close to the garages in the background and to the drivers. It was a really cool event. I hope I get to do one one day."

In a column for BBC Sport, Hamilton expanded on his surprise at how good the NASCAR spectacle was in person.

"I actually found it way more appealing in real life than it may appear on television," he wrote. "It's a very different world from F1 – the teams are much smaller, to the extent that it almost reminded me of my Formula 3 days.

"It's not plush. In terms of the technology the teams have, it is kept much simpler compared to F1.

"The atmosphere at the track is fantastic. There was one long grandstand that was absolutely packed with fans. The lap is only 30 seconds long, so you see the cars constantly. The cars sound amazing and they are freakin' rapid.

"The race was 267 laps – really long but I thoroughly enjoyed it, trying to understand the strategy and the differences between the cars. It was neat. It made me want to drive one – I really fancy a race in a NASCAR one day.

"I'm not sure I'd do an oval, but possibly a road course."


Although still rare, NASCAR/F1 crossovers have become more common in recent years.

Juan Pablo Montoya famously quit the McLaren F1 team mid-season in 2006 to race in NASCAR instead. His then teammate Kimi Raikkonen also briefly tried his hand at stock car racing (BELOW) when pondering his future options in mid-2011 before deciding to return to F1 from his World Rally Championship sabbatical.

Former Renault F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr. and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve both had some success in NASCAR's second-tier series – future Formula E champion Piquet a winner in both Trucks and what was then Nationwide – but could not establish Cup careers.

In the other direction, Gordon and fellow multiple Cup champion Tony Stewart have tested Williams and McLaren F1 cars, respectively, at promotional events.

Kimi Raikkonen, NASCAR Trucks 2011

Originally on

 L4R3630Red Bull's Formula 1 chassis is now as good as the Mercedes but Renault needs a complete engine rethink as its latest upgrade did not perform, reckons Daniel Ricciardo.

The team will revert to Renault's previous specification power unit for this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix despite using the upgraded version in Ricciardo's car in Brazil two weeks ago. Although there has still been no official announcement, Red Bull is expected to continue with Renault next season despite its earlier attempts to extricate itself from its contract when it believed it could get Mercedes engines instead.

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Asked how much confidence he had in what Renault was doing given his disparaging view of the latest upgrade in Brazil, Ricciardo replied: "It's definitely obvious they've got some work ahead of them. We put in the D-spec, or whatever, in Brazil and it didn't really show a whole lot. There would need to be a change of direction."

But while he remains critical of Renault's performance, Ricciardo thinks Red Bull has made great strides with its chassis.

"If we had more power, we could probably win races," he said. "We didn't have the quickest car at the start of the year. The chassis had some deficiencies. But I think what the team's done has made the chassis back to pretty much what it was last year, which was as good as the Merc."

Red Bull has yet to formally confirm it will stay in F1 for 2016 after earlier threats to leave over its engine situation, but has gone through the first stage of the entry process and announced numerous sponsor deals for next year.

Ricciardo said the team had continued to reassure its drivers.

"They're just saying we're working on it, we will have something, so don't stress," said Ricciardo. "Obviously there's a bit of weight off, knowing that we will be on the grid, but it would be nice to know how competitive we think we'll be."


Originally on

P1 4In the short term, LMP1 rules tweaks aim to keep speeds in check. Longer term, changes to energy recovery systems and even new fuels could be on the cards.

What’s next in the brave new world of LMP1 in the FIA World Endurance Championship? That’s not been fully decided just yet, but more powerful hybrid systems and reduced amounts of traditional fuels will be part of the landscape in the coming season. Further down the road, the door is open to new technologies that have yet to be seen on the racetrack.

P1 1The regulations introduced in 2014 that limit the fuel used over each racing lap and put an emphasis on energy retrieval were always set to evolve. That was one of the guiding principles of the new LMP1 rule book, and a key aim was a progressive reduction of conventional fuel usage.

The first step will occur next year, when the amount of fuel allocated to each car will be cut. This is set in stone, although the final figures have yet to be made public. But an energy allocation reduction of 10 megajoules for each lap of the 8.47-mile Le Mans 24 Hours track, with pro rata decreases at the other WEC venues, equates to just over seven percent.

A reduction in fuel usage was always planned for season three of the new rules, and 10MJ was the maximum discussed with the manufacturers. The rule makers – the FIA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest at Le Mans – made up their minds early in the 2015 season that the maximum possible reduction should be made. This was a reaction to the massive performance leap the P1 cars made between 2014 and ’15, although, they claim, not directly to the record-breaking lap times seen around the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans in June.

P1 3The ACO is, however, acutely aware of the ever quicker lap times at Le Mans. Neel Jani took pole position for Porsche with a 3m16.887s flyer, while Audi driver Andre Lotterer set the fastest race lap, 3m17.476s. Those marks compare with 3m21.789s and 3m22.567s in 2014.

Porsche and Audi believe that it makes sense to increase hybrid power, with the possible introduction of an additional 10MJ class above the existing sub-divisions of two, four, six and eight when the new chassis rules come into force. Toyota is against an all-in-one change in the rules.

“Technology is the DNA of the WEC and we have to make sure that we develop that value further,” says Audi’s head of LMP1, Chris Reinke. “We should allow a further step to advance the technology further in 2018, but we have to decide if a series of megajoule classes is still the right solution.”

P1 2

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