Thursday, May 19
Adam Sinclair

Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

Contact Adam: Email  

  

 
By Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service
 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Tristan Nunez hoped to witness a historic moment Thursday in Detroit. It didn’t turn out as he wished, so now the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver is focused on making his own history in the Motor City in six weeks.
 
Nunez threw the ceremonial first pitch at Comerica Park as the host Detroit Tigers took on the New York Yankees in a Major League Baseball showdown. Tigers great Miguel Cabrera needed one base hit in the game to reach the magical plateau of 3,000 for his career but was unsuccessful in four plate appearances.
 
Nonetheless, Nunez enjoyed the experience and was pleased with his “performance” on the mound. He also looked ahead to the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, the WeatherTech Championship event June 3-4 at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, where he and co-driver Pipo Derani will try to put the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in victory lane at the home race for the General Motors brand.
 
“It’s been an incredible day making the rounds – the media stops and finishing it off here,” Nunez said by phone from Comerica Park. “It’s really a special day and a special privilege to get to throw out the first pitch here.
“There was a lot of pressure on the mound but we didn’t bounce it, so that’s good,” he added. “It was a little high but I would rather it been high than low. Had a decent amount of juice on it, too, so I’m happy with it.”
 
The Floridian is also happy about returning in June to Belle Isle, where he achieved his first IMSA top-level series win as a teen driving a Mazda 6 in the GX class in 2013.
 
“It’s always a track that will have a special place in my heart, where I got my first IMSA win,” Nunez said. “Seventeen years old, it’s crazy to think. Feels like it was just yesterday.”
 
Nine years later, Nunez is amped about his ride in the No. 31 Cadillac operated by three-time Detroit winner Action Express Racing. June’s race takes on added meaning since it will be the last on Belle Isle before the event returns to a downtown street course in 2023. It provides a chance for Nunez and Derani to make history by becoming the last Daytona Prototype international (DPi) winners on the park circuit in front of the GM brass.
 
“It’s coming around full circle,” Nunez said. “It’s where my career really started to get the ball rolling and now to finish off the Belle Isle history with it being the last race at Belle Isle – wearing the Cadillac brand, racing on the home turf – it’s going to be a special race for me personally.”
 
The Chevrolet Sports Car Classic weekend includes WeatherTech Championship practice and qualifying on Friday, June 3. The 100-minute race for the DPi and GT Daytona (GTD) classes begins at 3:10 p.m. ET Saturday, June 4 and airs live on USA Network, Peacock and IMSA Radio. Tickets for the race weekend are available at detroitgp.com/tickets.
 Brittany Force rocketed to the fastest pass in the history of Houston Raceway Park, grabbing the provisional No. 1 spot in Top Fuel and kicking off the final NHRA SpringNationals in impressive fashion on Friday at the legendary facility.
 
Ron Capps (Funny Car), Camrie Caruso (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the fifth of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
 
Force previously held the speed record at the Houston Raceway Park in Top Fuel but went 3.695-seconds at a record-breaking 333.58 mph in her 11,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster to close out qualifying on Friday and give her the fastest run in both nitro categories. Coming off an impressive win in Las Vegas, Force put on a show in Houston, with her performance putting her in line for her second No. 1 qualifier this season and 34th in her career.
 
“That’s just huge for our team and everyone that was part of tonight,” Force said. “It’s the final race here in Houston, so to put on a show for them like that is pretty exciting for all of us. We were right on our target with our run and just looking at our season, we’ve put up some pretty big speeds. It was cool to put on a show like that for our fans. That win in Vegas just pumped us up and motivated us, and when you’re in that winner’s circle you want to get back at it. There’s just an extra energy in the pits and we want more.”
 
Justin Ashley is currently second after the first session with a 3.697 at 330.80, while Force’s Top Fuel teammate, Austin Prock, is third after going 3.701 at 330.15.
 
Still riding high from his first career victory as a team owner, reigning Funny Car world champion Capps kept rolling on Friday in Houston, going to the No. 1 spot with a standout run of 3.864 at 326.16 in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car. It was just enough to slip past Robert Hight as the two standouts continue their thrilling duel this season and puts Capps in line to collect his third No. 1 qualifier in 20222 and 32nd in his career. Capps and Hight are also tied with four Funny Car wins in Houston and the two-time champ would like to collect another in the final event at the track.
 
“Our team makes me look way better than I am,” Capps said. “It’s a good hot rod right now and you’ve got to enjoy it when it’s like this. You show up first round and you hope you can put up a number like that. It’s imperative that you can do that. You go on these runs like this where you win rounds and win races, (but) you can’t get arrogant about it. You just take it as it comes and just be glad that you’ve got a good hot rod.”
 
Hight, whose first career Funny Car win came in Houston, took the second spot to close out the opening round of qualifying, going 3.865 at 331.36. Cruz Pedregon had a run of 3.881 at 324.67, which currently puts him third.
 
In just her fifth career start, rookie Caruso put on a show and is now on track for her first career No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock after going 6.547 at 209.39 in her Sand Haulers of America Chevrolet Camaro. The young standout has enjoyed a strong start in the first year of her Pro Stock career in 2022 and Friday’s performance was the latest example. But Caruso has continually praised her team, one that has helped put her on the cusp of her first top spot.
 
“It was really exciting, and it felt really smooth,” Caruso said. “I’m really thankful for my guys and my team, and hopefully it holds. I always have confidence in my car and my team because they do a great job, but we just want to continue to make A to B runs and then we can improve from that. I wasn’t expecting No. 1, but I’ll take it.”
 
Houston native Erica Enders took the second spot on Friday thanks to her 6.553 at 210.87 as she looks for a win in the final race at her home track. Enders’ Elite Motorsports teammate and points leader Aaron Stanfield ran 6.555 at 210.57 to sit in the third position.
 
Stoffer simply picked up where she left off, vaulting to the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle after setting the world record and winning the opener in Gainesville. This time, she went 6.775 at 199.64 on her Ray Skillman Auto Group/Big St. Charles/Suzuki Extended Protection bike on Friday, hoping to pick up her sixth career No. 1 qualifier. Stoffer also has a strong history in Houston, winning a pair of races, and has been nothing but incredible to open the 2022 season.
 
“Gainesville seems like it was forever ago, so you’re definitely wondering if you can continue that momentum, but we were excited about putting together another good pass,” said Stoffer, who has two career Houston wins. “I think there’s more out there and there’s definitely going to be a lot of competition, but I hope it holds. It was fun and I’m just having such a blast on that bike. It’s just so fun to ride and it’s going so smooth and so straight and so fast. I’m just having a good time with it.”
 
Angie Smith, who finished as the runner-up to Stoffer in Gainesville, gave females the top two spots in the class with a 6.798 at 199.97, while Steve Johnson rounded out the top three with a 6.804 at 197.68 after the first qualifying session.
 
Qualifying continues at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday at the final NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park.

 

(Courtesy of NHRA Communications)

Practice and qualifying are complete for the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s TA/XGT/SGT/GT event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca tomorrow. Tomy Drissi, who finished second at both Charlotte Motor Speedway and Road Atlanta, topped practice in his No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang with a best time of 1:24.969.
 
Chris Dyson was second in his No. 20 ALTWELL Ford Mustang with a 1:24.979, followed by Dyson’s CD Racing teammate Humaid Masaood’s No. 21 allgram Ford Mustang with a 1:27.793. Ken Thwaits’ No. 7 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro was fourth with a 1:27.893, and Amy Ruman rounded out the top five in her No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette with a 1:28.321.
 
Full practice results can be found here.
 
Today’s qualifying session saw Chris Dyson earn his third Motul Pole Award of 2022 and second in a row when he recorded a lap time of 1:23.796. Tomy Drissi was hot on his heels with a 1:23.802.
 
“It was a lot closer than I think any of us expected,” said Dyson of the qualifying session. “Frankly, we shouldn’t be surprised because Tomy [Drissi] has been hard on us all weekend. We lost the radio there, so I thought my time was quick enough, but I didn’t realize how close it got. It was an interesting session because 99.9-percent of the track is dry except for a stream running through Turn 4, and you can’t drive it the same way twice, so it was a unique challenge for today. I think we’ve got a great racecar for tomorrow. We’ve got the ALTWELL Mustang up front, and we’ll try to keep it there tomorrow.”
 
Third fastest in qualifying was Ken Thwaits with a 1:26.665, followed by Simon Gregg’s No. 59 Burtin Racing/59 Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, which put down a speed of 1:26.757. Humaid Masaood was fifth with a time of 1:27.559.
 
Erich Joiner’s No. 10 goodboybob Coffee Roasters Porsche GT3R was the fastest qualifier in XGT, also setting a new track record for his class with a 1:28.723. Cindi Lux led the SGT class with a 1:33.253 in her No. 45 Black Rock Coffee Dodge Viper.
 
Full qualifying results can be found here.
 
The TA race will be contested on Saturday, April 23 at 1:05 p.m. PT/4:05 p.m. ET. Free live coverage begins at 12:20 p.m. PT/3:20 p.m. ET at www.youtube.com/TheTransAmSeries.
 

F1 icon Juan Pablo Montoya sat down with  VegasInsider, to discuss what to expect from the F1 teams this season, emphasizing on the Ferrari engine and how it could benefit Haas. Here's what Montoya said:

  • Haas will benefit from the Ferrari connection

"If Ferrari built a good car that it looks like they have, and you're Haas and you get the engine, the gearbox, the rear suspension and the front suspension and you do a half-decent job on the aero package, you might not be that far from a Ferrari."

"If your basics are very good - if Ferrari made a huge step forward, they (Haas) made a huge step forward. Plus all the aero games."

"They get a lot of things from Ferrari, so if Ferrari runs really strong, they are going to run stronger. If you look at when Haas came in, Ferrari was winning races.”

 

  • It will be interesting to see how much of a step Williams will be taking

"If Ferrari built a good car that it looks like they have, and you're Haas and you get the engine, the gearbox, the rear suspension and the front suspension and you do a half-decent job on the aero package, you might not be that far from a Ferrari."

"If your basics are very good - if Ferrari made a huge step forward, they (Haas) made a huge step forward. Plus all the aero games."

"They get a lot of things from Ferrari, so if Ferrari runs really strong, they are going to run stronger. If you look at when Haas came in, Ferrari was winning races.”

Where do you put the AlphaTauri? Do you put it really close to the Red Bull, because they're sister teams. They should be right there."

"You look at everyone else, Aston Martin, where is Aston there? They're so packed."

  • Kevin Magnussen coming back at Haas surprised many, but it was the correct decision

"I think a lot of people were surprised, but I think he was the right person for the job." 

"Because it would have been him or (Romain) Grosjean, in my opinion, because they are guys that have been in the team, know the team, know the engineers, know the working environment. And they understand the sport. When that happens, it's easy to make that decision. You can either have somebody with crazy amounts of money or you look for somebody that's gonna help the team."

"At that point, you're gonna look for somebody that is going to help the team, more than anything else, in my opinion. And I think they went for the safer route. That is the safest route they could go with. Because, who else are you going to hire?"

"(Pietro) Fittipaldi hasn't raced in how many years? And he did a decent job when he replaced, a year and a half ago. But since that race, I don't think he's raced anything."

"How many tests do they do in F1?"

"Are they gonna gamble it on a young guy? With no testing experience, no simulator time, a week before the race?"

"The choices were Grosjean but he signed with Andretti for a multi-year deal. He's in a happy place and I don't think he would go for it. So the other guy was Mags."

"The other guy you could have looked for was (Nico) Hulkenberg."

  • Bottas, at Alfa Romeo, is coming out with a vengeance this season

"At Alfa Romeo, I think Bottas is coming out with a vengeance. I think he really wants to do a good job. People behind Sauber want to make sure they run well."

"And they are on a Ferrari engine as well."

Thanks again to  VegasInsider. You can find the entire interview here.

 

The excitement in the arena continued to increase throughout Day 2 of the 2022 Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction as more than 250 collector cars sold on the auction block. A pair of very special vehicles united the audience and elicited cheers and applause.

A surprise appearance by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis brought the entire arena to their feet. Gov. Ron DeSantis was introduced by Florida Sen. Tom Wright who then joined Barrett-Jackson Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson and President Steve Davis, philanthropists George and Megan Shinn, and American Muscle Car Museum founder Mark Pieloch and his wife, Tetiana, to take part in the sale of two cars, a 2009 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake and a 1986 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Indy Pace Car donated from their collections.

The cars were sold as a pair to benefit Samaritan’s Purse, a nonprofit organization that is providing humanitarian relief in Ukraine. Edward Graham, vice president of operations for Samaritan’s Purse and grandson of Reverend Billy Graham, took center stage to explain how 100% of the hammer price will help the crisis relief efforts.

Gov. Ron DeSantis brought the gavel down on a $1 million bid by NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick, but it was in the following moments that the generosity went even further. Eliciting both cheers and tears, George and Megan Shinn and Mark and Tetiana Pieloch each added $100,000 to the hammer price. Craig and Carolyn Jackson as well as Steve and Janie Davis matched the donation, which was also duplicated by John Staluppi, John Rosatti and Sam Pack, with Michelle Mauzy adding $50,000. Additional donations brought the total to $1,760,000.

The Pielochs have a direct connection to Ukraine; Tetiana is a Ukrainian citizen. After witnessing the horrific images coming out of the country, they decided to specify one of his vehicles for charity. Two of Tetiana’s relatives, who recently arrived in the U.S. after fleeing the war, accompanied the vehicles on the block while waving Ukrainian flags.

Shinn, who had already consigned part of his collection, was encouraged by Megan to do something to support those suffering in Ukraine.

“The generosity of Barrett-Jackson’s customers overwhelms me,” Craig Jackson said. “Freedom is priceless, but it’s not free.”

If you’d like to add to the funds raised for Ukraine, click here.

Also selling for good cause was a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited custom 6×6 pickup. The one-of-a-kind vehicle sold for $150,000 and resold when the high-bidder, John Staluppi, donated the vehicle back to sell again for another $100,000. A total of $250,000 was raised for Can’d Aid, which helps build thriving communities.

Top sales of the day included $231,000 for a 1984 Porsche 930 Turbo2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible IMSA GTLM Championship Edition, $220,000; a 2006 Rolls-Royce Phantom, $209,000; 2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited custom SUV, $181,500; and a 1965 Amphicar 770, which sold for an auction world record $161,700.

The morning opened with the Automobilia Auction, which featured a large selection of memorabilia items from John Staluppi’s Cars of Dreams Museum. Top automobilia sales for the day included a Porsche Automobiles neon sign, which sold for $51,750; and a 1950s Corvette coin-operated kiddie ride, sold for $34,500.

Barrett-Jackson auctions are known for welcoming celebrities. Among those stopping by on Friday were TV personality and automotive specialist Ant Anstead; former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich “Ace” Franklin; and Captain Lee Rosbach from TV reality show “Below Deck.”

 

(Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson)

Atlanta-based SKI Autosports has its sights set on carving a new reputation for performance with the launch of a Ferrari 458 GT program in the GT America championship.

The team’s GT3 competition debut will take place at VIRginia International Raceway with veteran championship-winner driver Andy Pilgrim at the helm. 

In 2021, the team dominated the International GT Maranello Cup competition, winning the championship and overall races at historic tracks throughout the US, including VIR in September.  

“It felt like the right time for our team to make the move into professional racing. We have the right car and certainly the right driver to be competitive,” said team owner Kent Hussey. 

The SKI Autosports team is run by veteran champion sports car manager Phil Creighton.

Hussey continued, “Phil and his team are an undeniable combination and affords us the best possibility to win. Along with Andy, we have put together a team that has the opportunity to compete for wins in the SRO series.”

British-born American racer Pilgrim’s career has included stints as a factory Corvette and Cadillac driver. He won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2004 aboard a Daytona Prototype and scored the then SPEED World Challenge championship in 2005.

“We had a great time with the Ferrari in IGT last year, I’m so excited we’re heading to the SRO GT America series," Pilgrim said.

"I can’t think of a better team to be with in this venture. The SKI Autosports team is such a blast to work with, both on and off the race track.”   

SKI Autosports will compete on a limited schedule in 2022 with an eye toward a full season in 2023.

GridRival, the most in-depth fantasy motorsports manager game on the planet, has announced it has registered its 180,000th user in March, 2022, just one year since the platform went live in 2021. GridRival’s mobile app, which uniquely offers fantasy leagues based on Formula 1 and MotoGP race results, with more series to be added throughout the year ahead, also enjoyed significant audience growth in March, 2022, seeing its total registered user base grow by over 50%, helping push through the 180,000 mark..

“GridRival exists to make motorsport fans’ favorite series more exciting, more engaging and more social, and our audience growth demonstrates that there is a real appetite among the motorsport community for the gaming product we have created,” commented GridRival Founder and CEO Ross Fruin. “Our ever-increasing registration numbers are a strong indicator that we have created a community that caters to motorsports fans, an audience which we believe had been poorly served by fantasy games before GridRival, and by sports betting operators overall. We are delighted to be exceeding our projected user figures and are on target to achieve our mission of becoming the number one fantasy gaming destination of choice for motorsports fans around the world.”

GridRival, which Fruin launched in 2021, has gained popularity with motorsport fans due to its combination of fantasy leagues, detailed performance data, in-depth research tools and social features. 

“Our purpose-built platform allows users to make informed choices on team selection, while offering a simple and clean interface for social engagement,” continued Fruin. “Our ultimate goal is to make motorsports more exciting, and in future we will provide both fantasy and real-money offerings across multiple race series.”

The 2022 season for the Formula 1 World Championship on ESPN networks kicked off with a record audience watching the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.


Viewership for the Bahrain race, which started shortly after 11 a.m. ET, peaked at 1.54 million between 12:30-12:45 p.m.An average of 1,353,000 viewers tuned in on ESPN as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc won the season opener, the largest audience for an F1 race on any of ESPN’s networks since the championship returned to ESPN in 2018. The previous high was 1.2 million for the 2021 United States Grand Prix, which aired on ABC.

The race also was the second most-viewed on both cable and ESPN on record, exceeded only by the 1.74 million average audience for the 1995 Brazilian Grand Prix, and falls among the top 15 most-watched F1 races of all time in the United States.

The telecast viewership also set an event record, becoming the most-viewed Bahrain Grand Prix ever, surpassing last year’s mark of 927,000 on ESPN2.

The telecast averaged 656,000 viewers in the Persons 18-49 demographic, a substantial increase over the 486,000 average for last year's Hungarian Grand Prix, the largest of the 2021 season.

The top U.S. metered television markets for ESPN’s telecast of the Bahrain Grand Prix were Richmond, Va. (1.9 rating); Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. (1.6); Charlotte, N.C. (1.5); and Indianapolis (1.4). 

The Bahrain audience comes on the heels of the record-setting 2021 season that saw F1 races on ESPN networks average 949,000 viewers, making it the most-viewed F1 season ever on American television.

As WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca celebrates its 65th racing season, we take a look back at some of the legendary characters who helped mold the mystique of the now world-renowned race track.
 
In 1960, Laguna Seca had three years of racing under its belt and started to form into an elite racing venue. Its competitions often attracted not only the best drivers in the U.S., but around the world.
 
Beginning that October, the Pacific Grand Prix implemented an innovative way to race. The competition was divided into two 200-mile heats, with a 30-minute break in between. This time was used for repairs on the cars which struggled in the first heat, and to tune up the ones that finished.
 
Enter Sir Stirling Moss – a London native who was downshifting into the twilight of his International Motorsports Hall of Fame career in the early 1960s.
 
Moss won 212 races between 1948-1962, including 16 Formula One Grand Prix events. Two of those 212 wins came in the 1960 and 1961 Pacific Grand Prix, where he went back-to-back.
 
Moss would return to Laguna Seca often later in his life to take part in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.
 
As Moss took the trophy home during the 1960 Pacific Grand Prix, the man who finished second to Moss in the overall results was taking his final competitive laps.


 
Carroll Shelby navigated the Laguna Seca course in car No. 98, a bright red Maserati Tipo 61, in the final race of his legendary career, which was cut short due to heart problems. Shelby finished fifth in the first heat and fourth in the second to place only behind Moss as the two icons went one-two in the final standings.

Shelby became notorious for popping nitroglycerin tablets to ease chest pains from a chronic heart condition. After finishing second to Moss, Shelby complained to the press that he would have won the damned thing had he not had to slow down to take his heart medications while driving.
 
Footage of that race can be seen here.
 
The most famous drive of the 1961 season didn’t happen on the Laguna Seca pavement – but rather at the Mark Thomas Inn hotel pool. Yes, you read that right.
 
Augie Pabst, fueled by adult beverages and a bet from Roger Penske and Walt Hansgen, drove his Hertz rental car into the hotel pool.
 
“I said, ‘Augie, you’ve had a really bad day. I bet you $100 that you won’t drive your rental car into the swimming pool,’” Penske later recalled.
 
“So, sure enough, Augie stripped down to his undershorts, got in his rental car and drove right down between the diving board and into the pool. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen!”
 
The car was totally submerged, and unfortunately for Hansgen, he had forgotten to take his camera out of the trunk first.
 
The following day the car was removed from the pool, and both Hertz and the Mark Thomas Inn – which is now the Hyatt Regency – received more publicity than they ever could’ve dreamed of as a result of the prank. When the group returned to the hotel the following year, the staff had placed a floating “no parking” sign in the pool.
 

 
The late 1960s saw high-powered muscle cars take over at Laguna Seca, as the Trans Am series roared into Monterey in 1969.
 
Mark Donohue became a fixture on the podium at Laguna Seca, as he captured the final USRRC race ever held in Monterey in 1968 behind the wheel of Roger Penske’s McLaren M6A. Donohue would go on to clinch the 1968 USRRC title, which was his second in a row.
 
The always popular Donohue also found great success in the Trans Am series. Behind the wheel of a Camaro Z28, he won the inaugural Over 2000cc race at Laguna Seca in 1969, which also clinched his second consecutive Trans Am series championship.
 
Check back next month for another installment of 65th Anniversary Laguna Legends. And make sure to buy your tickets to all eight 2022 premier events at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca by visiting www.WeatherTechRaceway.com or by calling the Tickets and Accommodations Specialists at 831.242.8200.

 

(Courtesy of WeatherTech Raceway)

Recently, former F1 and NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya gave his opinion on the young drivers this season, commenting to  VegasInsider  that if Mercedes do not challenge for the title, George Russell could finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Here's what Montoya had to say:

  • If Mercedes do not challenge for the title, Russell finishes ahead of Hamilton

"If Mercedes is not as strong as to win a championship, absolutely (Russell finishing ahead of Hamilton in the season)."

"If Mercedes has a shot at the championship, no. I think Lewis is still going to beat him just because he has a lot more experience."

"If the car is average, running fifth every week, I think George will still push like he wants to win where Lewis might be disappointed, and won't care enough."

"If they genuinely struggle this year, will he go - 'let's go another year, running in the midfield?"

"I don't see him walking him away from Mercedes to somewhere else because they struggle. I think he would probably just say, 'thank you very much, I'm done'."

"I think George is going to make Lewis' life very miserable but I think it's great. It is the next generation of top guys that is great to see."

  • The 'paying' drivers now have enough talent to be in Formula 1

"Mostly people in F1 are there because they have enough talent, and even with enough talent they need enough backing to make it."

"Even the guys with extra backing to make it, they've done a good job in the previous Formulas. They're not bad drivers."

"That's the problem. You look at people paying for seats and stuff and you go - 'they're terrible'. The guy terrible is finishing top 3 in F2. There's a lot more terrible behind him."

"The problem, in the environment of the sport, is when you have someone paying for a seat like that they feel - 'oh my god, he's just there because of the money'. Yeah part of it is the money but they still did a decent job. Mazepin did a decent job. Was he the fastest guy out there who would light the world on fire? Probably not. But he wasn't terrible. He made enough points to get a super license, so, whether you like it or not, he's there."

"That's a very hard argument because the paying drivers nowadays are pretty good. Are they super stellar and going to be world champions? Probably not. But can they make a career out of it? Probably yes."

"And the thing nowadays, the way the economy is, how unpredictable it is and everything, when somebody comes with the money, the team decision is a much easier one."

"Whether you like it or not, 80 percent of the performance in F1 is the car. You can put Lewis and Max as teammates, on a Haas, or Williams, last year and they are going to run at the back of the pack. They wouldn't do a better job or anything that much better than George Russell was doing with it."

"When you're a smaller team, you want to have the best driver possible in the team but a lot of them will look at it as a business. If you're Haas and your companies are the ones putting money in for the sport and then somebody comes and goes - 'here is a chunk of change that you don't have to get out of your bank' - it's hard to say 'ah no no no, I'll keep spending it'."

"If they're winning races they want to make sure to have the best possible driver but if they're missing on that front, then it's extra money for development. Once the car gets really good, they can go and hire somebody else."

  • Pierre Gasly is one to watch out for - he feels at home at AlphaTauri

“From the young guys as well, you got to look at the two guys, (Pierre) Gasly has been around in F1 for a while and it's interesting because I don't know how different the environment in Red Bull and AlphaTauri is really, but he really feels at home at AlphaTauri and he excels at it."

"He matured a lot through last year. He got to learn a lot." 

"The crazy thing with F1 is when you're really good, they give you a lot of breaks. And I think Red Bull changed their mentality lately and have been a little nicer to their guys because they used to give them a chance, and two races later someone and two races, somebody else."

"They were not really giving people enough of a chance to perform and I think that's changed a bit."

"They still need to perform."

Thanks again to VegasInsider for this insight. You can find the entire interview here.

X

No right click

Please link the article.