Monday Motorsport Wrap: Different script yet same result in British GP; Aussie wins in Germany; Ogier in Pole position; Power fined over IndyCar blow-up; Another Brabham at Indy?
F1: Hammer time after Silverstone thriller
England’s delightfully unpredictable weather has conspired to assist Lewis Hamilton to a crazy British Grand Prix victory that was never certain until close to the chequer.
The huge crowd of about 140,000 mostly sun-crazed Brits that turned out under blue skies to cheer on Hamilton were stunned when the William’s pair Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas made brilliant starts to fire past the two front-row Mercs.
Impressively, the Williams duo up front then matched the pace of the pursuing Silver Arrows. Bottas showed signs he was capable of passing Massa for the lead, but then came the unfathomable call from Williams for the two not to race each other. Yet again the Williams’ brains trust wimped out strategically.
Mercedes waited for strategy to come into play, and made an aggressive early stop with Hamilton which jumped him to the lead.
Rosberg’s race came alive when rain showers arrived. He was the fastest man on track, passing both struggling Williams on the circuit and then charging down on his team-mate.
With Rosberg poised to pass him, Hamilton made the surprising call – which turned out to be a masterstroke – to pit for intermediate rubber.
Rosberg said afterwards that this was the turning point. “When the rain came, I was able to ramp up the pace, overtake the Williams drivers and close the gap to Lewis. At that point I really thought I could win the race. But then he made the pit stop - which I thought was a wrong decision at that moment until suddenly it started to rain heavier. It turned out to be the right decision from Lewis, as I had stay out one more lap and lost too much time in the wet with my slicks.”
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel also made a good call and came through to grab third from Massa and Bottas.
“In some ways it was an incredibly frustrating race, and others it was very pleasing,” reported Bottas afterwards. “Both cars had great starts and we raced the Mercedes with genuine pace, but when the rain came I really struggled with the intermediate tyre.” A future with Ferrari must look enticing.
Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo’s miserable season continued when he retired with electrical problems.
GERMAN F4: Aussie Mawson hits the front
Australian rising star Joey Mawson has fired to the lead in the closely fought German Formula 4 Championship after strong performances in sweltering heatwave conditions at the Lausitzring.
Mawson took a commanding win from second on the grid in the first of three heats, and then backed up with two fighting second placings.
The final race of the weekend the grid was a reverse top 10. By dint of winning the opening race, Mawson started 10th. He raced spectacularly to hit the lead in just two laps of racing. Then he was bumped off the track at the last restart and had to settle for second.
Mawson’s great weekend moves him to within four points of the championship leader, Joel Eriksson.
An entry of 34 cars fronted (wouldn’t CAMS kill for these numbers in the new Australian F4 series?). One second separated the top 24 cars.
WRC: Ogier wins a tight one on Poland gravel
Volkswagen’s Sébastien Ogier stayed cool under pressure to fight off a fierce challenge from team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen to claim a 11.9sec victory in Rally Poland.
Leading by 5.6sec on Saturday night, the Frenchman turned up the screws through the last two stages to clinch his fifth victory of the season, and one of his finest victories ever.
“I have had so many great wins, but no-one wanted to help me on this one,” said a delighted Ogier, who won eight of the 18 stages. “I was first on the road for 90 per cent of the rally and we had to push from the first metre to the last one and I enjoyed that.”
Norway’s Mikkelsen won just two stages, but he kept the blowtorch directed at the sport’s leading star for three days.
Young Estonian talent Ott Tanak provided the struggling M-Sport World Rally Team with a well-deserved and much-needed podium finish, winning six special stages andseeing off a big charge from Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala to close out third place. Latvala crashed heavily on the final stage, hit a tree but some managed to get his Polo to the finish and keep fourth place despite radiator and front end damage.
New Zealander Hayden Paddon was the again quickest and most consistent of the four Hyundai drivers, taking fifth.
Local hopes in Rally Poland were pinned on the fast though unpredictable ex-Formula One star Robert Kubica, and he thrilled supporters with eighth in a fast and furious contest on relative smooth gravel roads. A puncture on the last stage cost him seventh.
Kubica drives his Ford Fiesta virtually one-handed due to the awful right arm serious injuries suffered in a rally which ended his F1 career some years ago.
Aussie champ Scott Pedder, competing in the WRC2 category of the world championship this year, was 29th outright and 12th out of 27 original starters in his Ford Fiesta R5.
INDYCAR: Power fined in fallout from wild Fontana race
Defending Indycar champ Will Power has paid a stiff price for pushing away a medical staffer after his crash in the closing stages of last weekend’s race at the Auto Club Speedway, Fontana in California.
Power is one of several drivers and teams penalised for infractions during one of the wildest races in recent memory. The biggest fines were directed at Power and the winning team.
Power was fined $25,000 and placed on probation for the remainder of the 2015 season for violating Rule 9.3.1 (Improper Conduct) and Rule 126.96.36.199 (Improper Conduct; using improper, profane, or disparaging language or gestures in reference to any official). This came after the bitterly disappointed Power was walking from his wrecked car after being the innocent party in a crash.
But, contentiously, race winner Graham Rahal and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry kept their victory and points after a dangerous mid race pit stop which threatened the safety of many on pit row. Rahal was dispatched with the fuel hose still attached, with the line breaking and fuel flying. The team was fined $10,000 ($5000 suspended) for violating Rule 188.8.131.52 (Pit Safety Violation; leaving pit with equipment attached to the car – fuel hose). Additionally, a crew member for the team was placed on probation for three races for violating Rule 184.108.40.206 (Pit Safety Violation; leaving pit with equipment attached to car – fuel hose).
INDYCARS: Brabham’s with Indy 500 target
Matthew Brabham has made a positive move to follow his father Geoff and grandpa Jack on to the starting grid of the Indianapolis 500.
The third-gen driver is desperate to make the field for the 100th running of the 500 next May, an event marking the 55th anniversary of his grandfather’s maiden start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Brabham, 21, tested an Andretti Autosport Honda at Iowa Speedway on July 1.
“Driving an Indy car in anger for the first time was definitely different to what I am used to - the speed, power and downforce were a big jump,” said the 2012 USF2000 and 2013 Pro Mazda champion. “But it did not take me too long and I was up to speed quickly and started to work through the program the team wanted to do.”
Father Geoff says the family is right behind Matt’s efforts to get to the Brickyard next year. "I feel he is more than ready and has performed very well in his recent test at Iowa Speedway. However being a young up-and-coming driver is extremely difficult in today's world.
“Firstly you need the backing and then you need a team willing to give you that break. We are fortunate in that Andretti Autosport really likes Matt and is keen to have him on board.
“But the budget has to come from somewhere and that is the issue we have to deal with. We are hoping our family history at the Indy 500 plus the fact that it is the 100th running of the race will be a catalyst to make it happen."
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