First off, I would like to send good wishes to Billy Monger, a British F4 driver who suffered a Memo Gidley esque crash with a stationary car earlier today. Track officials took 1-2hrs to extricate him from the car and was then airlifted to local hospital with what I can assume to be major leg injuries. I hope he has a speedy recovery.
That said; F1, WEC and BTCC, among others, were on track this weekend providing some exciting racing with plenty of action.
Now, this is going to be a long post, so grab a cuppa joe and enjoy!
F1 has now yielded 2 wins for the Scuderia to the Silver Arrow’s 1 early this season. While it seems clear that Mercedes has got the clear raw pace over Ferrari, they are very clearly down on race pace. Bottas, like Hamilton in Australia, complained of rear tire deg very early in the race, with Vettel cruising behind in 2nd place. Vettel then pitted for the undercut and never looked back afterwards. I could have told you that the season would have played out like this if the Ferrari power unit even closed the gap to Mercedes’ just a little bit over the winter. Mercedes has never had the chassis on any of their rivals, so for a heavily aero-focused rules package in affect this year, they really needed to have the power unit advantage of years past.
Mercedes just don’t have the tire life like they had last year, and seem to really suffer in traffic behind other cars. Ferrari doesn’t look to have the same issue, and this is how Vettel has been able to claim 2 early wins. Nevermind Hamilton’s mid race penalty for slowing down too much in pit lane in front other cars (…..).
Another interesting note is that Kimi seems to have fallen behind Vettel pretty significantly now. He had to battle hard to a 5th place finish after falling down to 7th at the start. He really needs to pick up the pace or Ferrari might dump him for a different driver next season and Kimi would be left out of a seat. We’ll revisit this topic later in the season.
Lastly, on an amazing note; both McLaren cars got in the points! Oh wait, I forgot it’s not 2014… FOOLED YA (who are we kidding, that didn’t)! Both cars retired: Vandoorne didn’t even start the race and Alonso was irate on the radio mid race complaining about the engine…again. He then retired 10ish laps from the end.
Touching on BTCC, it seemed like it was a well balanced affair: Moffat, Ingram and Shedden winning the first 3 races respectfully on the year. I can’t say I watched the races, being Canadian and all, I don’t get the race broadcasts. I usually catch the races on burningwhee1s but they don’t become available until Monday/Tuesday.
Finally, in WEC, we had an interesting race in the on again, off again affair with the rain. The LMP1 Porsches chose to run their Le Mans downforce setup this weekend; not because they wanted to, but because they couldn’t develop the high downforce bodywork in time. I’ll chop that up as another victim from VAG’s ongoing Dieselgate issues.
Nonetheless, it was clear they didn’t have the pace, with Toyota dominating every session and locking out the front row in qualifying. The not-so-lucky #7 Toyota first had a broken rear ARB, then crashed into the tire barrier 4hrs in at Copse. However, Porsche seemed to have better relative race pace, which should be a good omen for the June classic and next month’s Spa round. The race ended coming down to the wire with pit strategy. The #2 Porsche of Bernhard, Hartley and Bamber not taking tires with 35 minutes remaining to get ahead of the #8 Toyota, which had led the majority of the race. The Toyota made a great move to the inside of T3 with 12 minutes to go and cruised from then on for the first win of the year. The races are going to have to be as exciting as this for the rest of the year, with there only being 2 teams of 2 in LMP1-H.
In the Oreca 07 class…I mean LMP2, it was a very good race, with close action for the most of the 6hrs and Jackie Chan DC Racing claiming their first victory. It was very disappointing to see that 100% of the WEC P2 field being the same car. Yes, there will be more makes at Le Mans, but not much else. You could almost see it coming, with a lot of teams moving to the Oreca 05 last year from other chassis, but where did all the Ligier’s go? The JS P2 was a strong chassis, and you’d expect the JSP217 to be at least that good relative to the other cars. However, judging from how the Visit Florida’s Multimatic-Riley has been, I’m not surprised that teams didn’t opt for that chassis. I’d almost argue the best chassis in P2 is the Dallara, with the similarly engined Cadillac DPi’s dominating IMSA at the moment. Yes, there are a few of them in ELMS, but none in WEC. Let’s hope we get some more full-time entrants later in the year, or at least for next year.
GTE-Pro again yielded an exciting race, with Porsche and Ferrari battling each other early on. On a positive note (if you see it that way), the Porsche 911 RSR’s this year are much more competitive than last year’s model, despite still lacking performance in IMSA (Another topic I’ll get to later this year). With the change to a mid-engine layout, the mid corner speeds have increased and in general, have provided a much more balanced car. However, it was the flappy #67 Ford GT crossing the line for the first win of the year. I say flappy, as they had 2 occurrences of a loose passenger door on that car. It would have likely been a closer race at the end if the other Porsche of Kevin Estre hadn’t caught fire mid-way through the race and retired.
A late race pit stop by the Clearwater Ferrari should have handed the win to AMR in GTE-Am. I say should have, because on the last lap the Spirit of Race Ferrari and the AMR cars got together (doh), resulting in the Clearwater Ferrari getting the win. Interesting to note that the Porsches in GTE-Am are stuck with the 2015 version of the 911 RSR, as Porsche themselves say the car is too difficult to drive in the hands of amateurs. So write off all Porsches in the class this year, ugh. Why even bother if you have a car with severely less power and downforce than the rest of the class? It’s dumb, but they’ll come back stronger next year.
Well, that was this week’s races, I’ll be posting some stuff later this week but thank you for reading today’s novella!
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