FORMULA ONE: Hola! Rosberg bounces back to reign in Spain
NICO Rosberg breathed life back into the F1 world championship, converting his Saturday pole into a well-managed 17.5-second victory in the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya ahead of points leader Lewis Hamilton.
Regrouping after being hammered at the first four races by his Mercedes team-mate, Rosberg responded to critics in a most convincing way. He has now closed the gap to Hamilton to 20 points.
It was a perfect weekend for the German driver. He made a perfect start from pole – Mercedes’ 16th consecutive pole – and, following Catalunya tradition, that was the ballgame.
Hamilton, overwhelmed by wheelspin, was jumped by Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari in the run to the first corner, but later regained second.
Rosberg controlled the race throughout, easing off to allow Hamilton to move closer as the laps ran down.
Hamilton had the pace to account for Vettel, landing another Silver Arrows one-two. Vettel scored another podium, from Williams’ unflappable Valtteri Bottas, a menacing Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Felipe Massa (Williams).
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo battled hard but was never a challenger, taking seventh more than one lap down. It’s looking like a long, hard season for our Dan.
“Seventh was the maximum I could get out of the car,” the disappointed West Aussie reported. “There were some parts of the race that were encouraging. We’re still further off than where we want to be, but we’ll keep pushing. We came here with upgrades this weekend but they didn’t give us what we were expecting, so that’s something we’ll keep working on.”
Many of the stronger teams brought major updates to Barcelona. The outcome, though, was no significant shuffling of the pecking order at the pointy end.
Using his fourth internal combustion engine at Catalunya, Ricciardo was holding his breath throughout the race. Another power pack failure would mean a tough grid penalty for the next race, the Monaco Grand Prix, where passing is always at a premium.
The teams are considering approving the use of an extra engine in season. Red Bull is obviously in favour of the move, but Williams and Force India – users of reliable Mercedes engines – are against any further concessions on competitive and cost grounds.
V8 SUPERCARS: Ford dealer team dream
HOW much credibility do we attach to a newspaper story suggesting that a group of Ford dealers are looking at ways of keeping the Blue Oval’s V8 Supercars program alive despite the company’s decision to withdraw its support at the end of this season?
Well, not much, given the story emerged from News Corp, and that it quotes the unconvincing “anonymous source”.
The story suggests the dealers are working at finding a $1 million budget for Ford teams, with a hope that Ford Australia will match the dollar commitment.
But Ford Australia moved with lightning speed to dismiss any suggestion it might execute a handbrake turn and somehow stay involved, issuing an unambiguous statement on the same day as the tale emerged: There are no changes to the brand’s motor sporting philosophy of non-participation in V8 Supercars from next year.
“We are absolutely committed to serving our customers by investing more in our products and consumer experience, including 20 new vehicles by 2020 and our new free loan-car program for scheduled service,” said Ford Australia’s communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood. “Our racing plans remain the same.”
In other words, no racing.
F1: Red on par with silver
FERRARI is now matching the rampant Silver Arrows cars of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for engine power, or so says Mercedes F1 non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, who may or may not be looking at the same comparative performances that we are…
It certainly didn’t look like it at Catalunya, where the nearest Ferrari finished 45 seconds behind the winner.
Ferrari made huge gains over the off season, catching out rivals – and F1 pundits – when Sebastian Vettel took a stunning win in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Mercedes has won the other four races this year but Ferrari has emerged as a regular threat.
“Ferrari has closed the gap from last year to this year to nearly zero,” Lauda said. “I think they increased their engine by about 45 horsepower, so my estimate at the moment is that they have the same power Mercedes has.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo agrees that Ferrari has been the big mover off season, and has moved ahead of Williams and Red Bull.
But Vettel insists there is still a gap to Mercedes, despite Ferrari bringing many aero updates to the Spanish GP. The race results suggest he’s right.
PORSCHE SUPERCUP: Power kicks off European Porsche campaign
ADELAIDE’S Sam Power made a positive start to his European Porsche Supercup campaign in Barcelona.
Power, a graduate of Australian Formula Ford, qualified 15th (+1.2s from pole man German Michael Ammermuller and only 0.4s behind teammate Ben Barker, who raced Carrera Cup Oz in 2011).
A storming drive in the 14-lap race, which had an early safety car interruption, rewarded Power with a 10th place finish, one slot behind Barker. So he has bagged points on debut in a race won by Ammermuller.
Power has sunk everything into a venture that he hopes can fulfil his ambition of carving a career at the highest levels of GT racing.
The Porsche Supercup is the top one-make championship in the world with former champions including Le Mans 24 hour winner Stephane Ortelli.
“Many people have assumed that this venture of mine has been organised with both plenty of resources and time,” Power said. “The reality is the opposite; I’ve had to dedicate 95 percent of my time to finding the budget required to make sure I can get on the grid.
He admits he went to the opening round fit but not with enough seat time in the car.
“Having completed one full test in the car, we can see the pace is there, and I know the areas I need to work on,” he explained.
Next stop for the series is the Monaco Grand Prix meeting in a fortnight.
RALLYING: Police investigate WA spectator death
WEST Australian police have launched an investigation after a spectator was killed and two others injured by a competition rally vehicle on Saturday.
The incident occurred during the Donnelly round of the Western Australian Rally Championship, about 280km south of Perth.
One spectator sustained fatal injuries as a result of the incident, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport said in a statement. The two other spectators were flown to a Perth hospital for treatment, it said.
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