Ferrari’s slide a concern
Is Ferrari now the third-ranked team behind Red Bull?
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne was in Maranello last week for deep and meaningful debriefs with key F1 team people in a last ditch effort to rediscover winning ways against an emergent Red Bull.
Ferrari has not won a race this season and the margin over third-placed Red Bull in the constructors’ championship has quickly shrunk to six points in the face of Red Bull’s improved competitiveness in recent races.
It’s a fight for second place, with Mercedes out of reach. Nico Rosberg has notched five wins this year and Lewis Hamilton four. The only other grand prix victory of 2016 fell to Max Versappen in Spain after the Silver Arrows got together. But for Daniel Ricciardo not winning for RBR in Monaco, Ferrari would be back in third in the standings.
Ferrari was particularly disappointing in the recent British Grand Prix, and Marchionne wants to know why. According to motorsport.com, some tough questions have been asked of key engineers in the chassis and aero departments.
A reshuffle of some people has not been ruled out.
Cheekily, Red Bull’s Christian Horner says his team now has nothing to worry about from Ferrari this year, allowing his squad to focus on catching the runaway Mercs.
Horner believes upcoming grand prix circuits play to some of the strengths of his cars.
The Team Principal also feels Verstappen and Ricciardo can challenge Mercedes on pure pace at next weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
One man less than delighted with his car this year is Sebastian Vettel. Last year, he performed impressively, suggesting the start of another golden era at Ferrari.
But he has grabbed reverse this year and as a four-times champ and high achiever will not be thrilled to be winless and a long way from being a championship threat.
Did someone suggest it’s a familiar pattern to ex Ferrari star Fernando Alonso?
The Spaniard ultimately lost his enthusiasm and patience with Ferrari and headed elsewhere, to McLaren (okay that hasn’t borne fruit yet…).
The current Ferrari lacks downforce – a pain on fast tracks) and according to Kimi Raikkonen also has a perilously narrow setup window.
Verstappen’s arrival a benefit to both Red Bull drivers
Daniel Ricciardo sees the positives in the Dutchman’s elevation from Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo admits to being “a little bit pissed off” at losing his perfect qualifying record against his Red Bull teammates this season – Max Verstappen pipping him at Silverstone – but he’s happy that the young Dutchman’s arrival at RBR has pushed him to improve.
Verstappen is enjoying a purple patch since being promoted to the Red Bull, winning his first grand prix in Spain, and then collecting a pair of second-place finishes in Austria and Britain.
F1 media darling Verstappen has indisputably benefited from the misfortunate of others but he certainly mixes adventurous pace with impressive racecraft.
In their six races together since he joined Red Bull, Verstappen has outscored Ricciardo 77 points to 64 and is now just 10 points adrift of the Perth driver. Equally, Ricciardo has been stiffed by some poor decision-making by the team.
He remains upbeat. "With myself, he's [Max} pushing, he's doing really well and I obviously want to try and keep on top of it.
"I'm sure it's bringing out a bit more in both of us."
Legendary Flying Finn here for celebrations
Rauno Aaltonen returning to Australia for inaugural Southern Cross Rally Festival
One of the original Flying Finns, legendary Rauno Aaltonen, will be a star guest in the role of International ambassador at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the inaugural Southern Cross Rally held back in October 1966.
The versatile Aaltonen was a motor sporting household name globally and a hero locally for his exploits with Morris Coopers in rallying and the Bathurst 500 in the 1960s and ‘70s
Best known for his outstanding success around the world in rallying, Aaltonen was equally capable on the race circuit which he demonstrated convincingly during his visit to Australia as a member of the BMC team in 1966 by winning the then Gallaher 500 (miler) at Bathurst (on his first attempt) with local driver Bob Holden in a Mini Cooper S.
Just three days later the first Southern Cross Rally started from Sydney and Aaltonen was well placed among the leaders in the field during the first two nights until mechanical failure forced him to retire from the event.
Eleven years later though, and after many bold yet ultimately unsuccessful efforts, the thinking man’s driver won the Southern Cross Rally. By that time Aaltonen was driving a Violet 710SSS for the Datsun Rally Team and shared his 1977 win with co-driver Jeff Beaumont.
A still animated and energetic Aaltonen, now 78, lives in Turku, Finland, and still participates actively in many motoring-related activities that include vehicle development consultancies and operating his ‘High Performance’ ice driving school along with son Tino.
Aaltonen’s well-documented achievements as a rally driver began when in his early 20s, winning the Finnish Rally Championship title outright in 1961 and again in 1965, along with many of the major events on the European Rally Championship calendars, (forerunner to the current World Rally Championship), and claiming the title of European Rally Champion Driver in 1965.
Aaltonen continued contesting rallies at the highest level well into the 1970s, including the European series and then the WRC which started in 1973. His final start in a WRC event was the Safari Rally in December 1987 and over that 14-year interval netted six WRC podiums.
He was part of the successful Holden factory effort in the 1979 Repco Trial when he, the late Shekhar Mehta and the late Barry Lake finished third. And what a shame it is that Barry Lake is no long around to welcome his old driving colleague back to Australia.
The group loosely called the Flying Finns – Aaltonen, Timo Mäkinen and Simo Lampinen – presented the world with a new generation of rally drivers in the 1960s. They were faster than any before them; having been brought up on the snow, ice and loose gravel-covered roads of their native Finland, and inheriting the art of left-foot braking from the likes of Eric Carlsson, they delivered a press-on driving style that delighted spectators.
To this day, Aaltonen remains the greatest Mini driver of all, with 41 factory outings resulting in eight overall victories and 14 class victories, all of which led naturally to his involvement in the Mini’s development.
The Southern Cross Rally festivities commence on Friday, October 21 with three days at Melbourne’s Motorclassica exhibition, featuring special guest appearances along with displays of rally memorabilia and historic competition vehicles, before heading to Healesville for the Official Start of the touring road event activities on Monday, October 24.
Following the wrap up of the Southern Cross Rally Festival celebrations, it is anticipated many will head for a day out at the Muscle Car Masters at Sydney’s Motorsport Park on Sunday, October 30, 2016. This meet will feature Rauno Aaltonen teaming with Bob Holden during a special tribute of their convincing win and the parade of Minis that took the first nine places in the Gallaher 500 at Bathurst in October 1966.
Indie MotoGP teams fund boost
Deal finalised which means all Independent teams receive increased financial support from 2017
Starting next season, all seven independent MotoGP teams will receive money to cover the maximum cost of a bike from any of the six manufacturers in the MotoGP World Championship.
This deal, which will be a welcome boost to the budget of the non-factory outfits including Jack Miller’s Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, is part of a new agreement between IRTA and the teams. The cost is set to be capped at a maximum of 2.2 million Euros, giving an independent team two bikes for a single rider. Were another manufacturer to enter or return to the grid, they would run under one of the current independent teams.
This announcement was made at a Friday press conference in Germany attended by Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, and IRTA CEO Mike Trimby, along with teams’ bosses Lucio Cecchinello (LCR) Honda, Fausto Gresini (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Paolo Campinotti (OCTO Pramac Yakhnich, Hervé Poncharal (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Raúl Romero (Avintia Racing), Michael Bartholemy (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), and Jorge Martinez "Aspar" (Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati Team).
“Until 2021 this gives the teams the exclusive right to participate as independent teams,” commented Ezpeleta. “Lucio and LCR will have the chance to expand to fill the grid with a second bike for a total of 24 bikes, then all the teams have two slots.”
Ezpeleta went on to insist that “never will there be more than 24 bikes”.