Fernando Alonso, F1 2014

Fernando Alonso needed a change of scene in Formula 1 as neither he nor Ferrari were getting the best out of each other, reckons former teammate Felipe Massa.

Williams racer Massa drove alongside Alonso at Ferrari for four years from 2010, before dropped in favour of Kimi Raikkonen at the end of 2013. Alonso followed Massa to the Ferrari exit this year after reaching a mutual agreement with the team to end his contract early and move to McLaren. Sebastian Vettel will take Alonso's place.

Alonso and Ferrari agreed to split in October, and Massa said it was clear long before the official announcements in late November that the relationship had run its course.

"Everybody knew he was going to leave Ferrari, so it wasn't exactly breaking news," Massa said. "Maybe we saw that Ferrari didn't give him the best car that he expected, but maybe also he didn't help Ferrari to grow. So maybe now is the time for him to change."

Massa suspects that Ferrari will miss Alonso, though he still wishes his long-time employer success.

"If it is going to be any worse or better for Ferrari, I don't know," added the Brazilian. "Fernando is perhaps the best driver on the grid, so we don't know if it will be enough for Ferrari to make the step forward [without him].

"We need to wait and see. But I just hope for the best for Ferrari, anyway."

Williams's technical chief Pat Symonds agreed with Massa's verdict, having worked with Alonso during his title-winning years at Renault.

"He obviously wasn't happy at Ferrari – and if you're not happy then it's best to move on," said Symonds. "He does seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time [since he left Renault], which is a shame. The guy is incredibly quick."


Massa said his new partnership with Valtteri Bottas at Williams had advantages over working with Alonso as their driving styles are more compatible.

"He was good for me, but what was good for him as well is that our driving style is not so different," Massa said of Bottas. "So many races we had a very similar setup and if something was working for me, then he could see, and it was the same the other way around."

He said by comparison Alonso's style was very different.

"Fernando is very aggressive with the front of the car, so he uses more of the front tire than maybe anybody in Formula 1," Massa noted. "But by being so aggressive, he sometimes helps the rear, which is good at certain tracks. He [Bottas] has a completely different driving style to Fernando."



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153 LOEB

Sebastien Loeb

Sebastien Loeb says racecraft and refining setups are the main areas he needs to improve for his 2015 World Touring Car Championship campaign.

The nine-time World Rally champion focused entirely on circuit racing for the first time with his 2014 Citroen program. He had previously interspersed sports car races – including a full 2013 FIA GT season – around his WRC commitments.

Loeb briefly led the WTCC standings after a victory in the season-opening Marrakech event this year, but only won once more all season and slipped to a distant third in the standings behind Citroen team-mates Jose Maria Lopez and Yvan Muller.

Having been involved in several collisions during the year – including two with Muller – Loeb has admitted he needs to improve his judgment in wheel-to-wheel racing.

"If you check the results of this season, it is in race two that I lost a lot of points because I didn't overtake as many cars as Yvan, and especially Pechito [Lopez], who overtakes a lot," said Loeb. "My inexperience in racing is definitely quite important. Yvan has been racing since he was 10.

"I know the points where I have to work, but that is one of the most complicated things for me. To overtake at the right time and protect my place at the right time driving in traffic is an area I need to improve."

He also wants to better his car setup skills, having realized it is harder to make up for a handling deficit in circuit racing than was the case in rallying.

"It is much more important in the WTCC to adapt the setup of the car to all of the tracks," said Loeb. "In rallying you need a good setup, but if you have approximately a good setup you can manage to do the times.

"I had a lot of rallies where I started the first stage with a setup and then didn't touch anything until the end, just because I was feeling good, and I didn't care much about the setup."




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Ride along as Frank Stippler drives a Maserati 250F "Piccolo" to second place among Pre-1961 GP cars in the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco earlier this year.


Racing Boys Christmas Shopping 2014aVerizon IndyCar Series hopeful Alexander Rossi, veteran Indy car team owner Dale Coyne, and Honda Performance Development vice president Steve Eriksen met at Coyne's shop in Illinois, and based on the picture shared by Coyne Friday evening, the meeting went rather well.

Titled "Last Minute Christmas Shopping," Coyne's photo of Rossi sitting in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda with Coyne (RIGHT) and Eriksen (LEFT) was sent with a caption of:

Which of these three are doing some last minute Christmas shopping?

A. Steve Eriksen
B. Alexander Rossi
C. Dale Coyne
D. All the Above

Coyne ran Justin Wilson as his lead driver in 2009, and again from 2012-2014, winning two races and placing an impressive sixth overall in the 2013 standings. Coyne was one of three Honda-powered IndyCar teams to win in 2014 with rookie driver Carlos Huertas taking the checkered flag at Houston in the No. 18 entry.

With Wilson and Coyne going in different directions for 2015, and a significant investment in personnel and engineering resources for the new season, Rossi appears to have risen to the top of Coyne's shopping list.

"It was fantastic to meet Dale Coyne Racing as well as Steve [Eriksen] and Allen [Miller] from HPD today," Rossi told RACER. "I admire the effort that they're putting in this winter ahead of 2015."

Provided Wilson lands with the Chevy-powered KVSH Racing, Honda will have a limited number of winning drivers left on its roster, and it's looking less likely Huertas will be in the frame at DCR next season.

With Rossi, the 23-year-old Californian is one of many European-trained drivers looking to forge a new career in IndyCar. Based on his experience in GP2 and as a test and reserve driver for two Formula 1 teams, Rossi could bolster Honda's depleted lineup and give Coyne a young driver to build his program around for years to come.


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F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone revealed yesterday that he was renewing his push for a return to normally-aspirated engines for 2016 in place of the current turbo units on cost grounds, but admitted late Friday that his proposal did not go down well with the teams. However, he insists that he will force changes on the sport's teams if they can not agree to effective cost-cutting moves soon.

"The engine situation is unchanged. It's not exactly great progress," Ecclestone told Britain's The Independent. The next step is that we will have another meeting in January and the teams will have to come back with something positive. If they don't, we will say, 'This is how it has got to be.'"

The current V6 turbo regulations are currently set to remain in place through 2020 and unanimous agreement for the teams is required to alter them for next year – something obviously not forthcoming given Mercedes' adamant committment to the current rules. However, Ecclestone said changes could be forced through without unanimous approval of the teams for 2016.

"For 2016 we would get away without it being unanimous. That's for the January meeting," he told The Independent. "These people don't seem to be making any big effort to save on costs."


champions issue

What a sense of relief. The Formula 1 World Championship was not decided by the double points available in the finale.

Another sense of relief. This gimmick has now been dismissed to F1's Room of Lame Ideas, where it can fester along with mooted medal systems, the "only a driver's X best finishes count" rule, and allowing Chanoch Nissany to drive an F1 car in an official practice session.

A great idea, by contrast, was Mercedes-Benz allowing its drivers to race each other all year. This season could have been a demonstration run. Instead, the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg was always intriguing and often exciting.

For this Champions Issue of RACER, we also interviewed two of the drivers who most impressed in F1's "Division 2," racers who we believe have the potential to become World Champion in the future.

Converting potential into reality isn't easy though, as anyone at Team Penske can tell you. The fact that Roger's squad earned its first IndyCar title in eight years was somewhat offset by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series outcome. Despite 11 wins between just two cars, neither Brad Keselowski nor Joey Logano had luck go their way at the end of the season. Still, looking at Penske's results this year, you'd struggle to find any deficiencies, and the Captain's ship appears back on course.

Toyota's potential was there from the get-go in the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship and the TS040 HYBRID delivered convincingly, although Porsche came on increasingly strongly.

Long periods of domination in racing, such as enjoyed by Ferrari sports cars in the late 1950s and '60s (also featured in this issue), are rare these days. A team's or driver's ability to make potency pay off is often only fleeting, and that's why we pounce on the opportunity to celebrate the champions each season.

David Malsher

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 L0U2049Former Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne was announced as Ferrari's new F1 simulator driver on Friday, but tells RACER it will not stand in the way of any Verizon IndyCar Series opportunities that may arise.

"I'm still working on some things right now, but they aren't done," he said. "I'm doing the simulator work, but I will have some opportunities to race. There's nothing more I can say. Things are looking good."

vergneJEV made a big impression on the Andretti Autosport Formula E team during his debut in Uruguay last weekend after earning pole position and coming close to winning the race, and says their relationship could expand beyond the one-off street race in Punta del Este.

"It was good that Michael Andretti and the team could see what I could do in a short time in a new car. It was quite important," he noted. "The car was a bit strange; it's not a Formula 1 car, but it's quite fun to drive and the quality of drivers is very good."

The 24-year-old Frenchman stood in for countryman Franck Montagny in Uruguay, and based on the wrecking ball approach "Franck the Tank" used during the two opening rounds of the Formula E championship, JEV's speed and calamity-free approach could have him back in the car for future rounds.

"Probably – we're working on it," he added. "It's good and the series is very interesting."​

660x440 2014 Indy 500 Race Winner Ryan Hunter-Reay 42012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay has been one of the most active open-wheel drivers to make the crossover into the world of GT and prototype racing for almost a decade.

The American's passion for sports car racing has been one of the more compelling aspects of his career, and coming off a successful season as a member of the championship-winning Dodge Viper GT Le Mans factory program, the 34-year-old tells RACER he'd like to continue his role during the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events in 2015.

"I've been working finding a competitive ride for Daytona, Sebring, Petit, and maybe some other races if there's an interest, and really enjoyed being part of the Viper factory team, but with that going away just a couple months before the new season, a lot of the other opportunities had gone elsewhere," he said.

"So I've been talking with a number of teams and manufacturers to see what's available, and to let them know I'm ready to go if it's a competitive situation. It's something I've done every year since 2006. I've taken a class win at Sebring, and been on the podium three times at Daytona, and I feel like I have some unfinished business there. I want to win a Rolex (watch) pretty bad..."

Pruett RHR WTR DP 2013 DaytonaWith experience in the American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am Rolex Series (LEFT, with Wayne Taylor Racing at Daytona in 2013), and now the TUDOR Championship, RHR expects IMSA's second go-round to be a smoother experience for everyone involved.

"Like you'd have with any new series, there's some tweaking and adjustments that need to happen; balancing the DPs and P2s was a monumental task on its own, and I'm confident they'll improve there," he said. "And there were some procedural things that needed to be addressed, and I felt by the end of the season they had things pretty buttoned up.

"On my side with the Dodge team (BELOW), racing in GTLM was pretty amazing; the competition was unbelievable and I had a great time doing it. Either way, I think the prototypes and the GTLM classes with be as strong – and maybe stronger – than anything we saw last season. I've raced P2s, DPs, GTs, and know I want to be part of the big races."

RHR recently returned from Barbados where he starred in the Race of Champions, and with just a few weeks until the Jan. 9-11 Roar Before the 24 test at Daytona, he says he'll spend the time concentrating on TUDOR Championship solutions.

2014PLMMPruettSat1004 186

"It's really fun – the way the whole season builds at Daytona, and I'm the kind of guy who always wants to be racing, so this is the time of year for me where a lot of IndyCar drivers are bored and waiting until March for the season to begin, but for me, it always starts with sports cars in January," he explained.

"I can't imagine starting off a season without going to the Roar, shaking off some rust, getting into a rhythm, then racing at Daytona, racing at Sebring; it's become my warm-up to the IndyCar season, and I hope something develops for me to keep it going."whole season builds at Daytona, and I'm the kind of guy who always wants to be racing, so this is the time of year for me where a lot of IndyCar drivers are bored and waiting until March for the season to begin, but for me, it always starts with sports cars in January," he explained.

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