In the round-up: Mercedes play down the scale of their upgrade package for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Upgrades already being added to Mercedes W14
Following their disappointing start to the season in Bahrain, Mercedes already have parts to add to their W14 car for round two of the season in Jeddah.
“This weekend in Saudi Arabia we will learn more about W14, its characteristics and its limitations,” said team principal Toto Wolff. “It provides a very different test to Bahrain, and it will be interesting to see how the car reacts.
“We are bringing some small developments to the car. They won’t be game-changers, but they can start moving us in the right direction. And we’ll be pushing as hard as we can to create opportunities, and hopefully will give us a better account of ourselves than in Bahrain.”
Mercedes are third in the constructors’ standings after Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished fifth and seventh respectively in Bahrain.
Positive relationship with rival bosses “may change” – Vowles
New Williams team principal James Vowles may be new to the meetings with his counterparts across the paddock, having only assumed his current position just before pre-season testing, but he’s already familiar with many of them and particularly his previous employer Toto Wolff at Mercedes.
“There is definitely dialogue [with Wolff],” he said. “He and I have had a working relationship together for probably 12 years. And you simply don’t let go of those relationships overnight.
“But for what it’s worth, I have very good relationships up and down the paddock with most team principals. I have the same with Fred [Vasseur] I’ve known for many, many years of my life. Otmar [Szafnauer], I have known for many years, Zak [Brown] I know also. So whilst the relationship with Toto is incredibly strong as a result of working directly, and I’m asking questions of him, I’m also doing the same with many others up and down the public as well. And thus far everyone’s been supportive. That may change in time.”
Hunter-Reay lands seat for Indy 500
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar champion, has signed with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to contest this year’s Indianapolis 500 race.
The 42-year-old retired from full-time racing in 2021, after a career in the top level of American single-seater racing that included 18 wins over 18 seasons. He is the 33rd driver to be announced as entering the 2023 Indy 500, meaning he will currently automatically qualify for the race.
Should there be a 34th entry, which exceeds the size of the grid, then IndyCar will use ‘Bump Day’ qualifying to decide who misses out on starting the race.
Toyota top Sebring practice
Kamui Kobayashi led a Toyota one-two on the first day of practice sessions at Sebring for the World Endurance Championship.
The sister Toyota GR010 Hybrid, with Ryo Hirakawa at the wheel, set the pace in first practice, with two Ferraris and a Cadillac filling the positions behind and Kobayashi’s car lapping 0.964 seconds off the pace in fifth place.
In second practice Kobayashi posted a 1’46.954 lap that put him 0.318s clear of team mate Brendon Hartley, who shares his car with Hirakawa and Sebastien Buemi, while the two Ferraris and the sole Cadillac failed to improve on their pace from earlier in the day.
On Thursday there will be a third practice session and qualifying for Friday’s 1000-mile race.
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Motor racing links of interest:
American company accused of violating sanctions, doing business with Russian arms industry (PBS)
‘Russia’s economy depends on revenues from oil exports and American sanctions have been tuned up to choke its war effort against Ukraine. But there’s one area important to the Kremlin’s military output that has so far avoided scrutiny. It involves Haas Automation, a high tech American manufacturer that may be flouting export controls.’
Chloe Chong to debut with Prema in inaugural F1 Academy season (Prema)
‘Prema is proud to announce that Chloe Chong will join the team’s F1 Academy line-up for the 2023 season. The 15-year-old British-Canadian started competing in 2013 and last year ran in the X30 Junior class of the British Championship. She was among the senior finalists in the FIA Girls On Track Rising Star programme.’
Collector Henri Pescarolo and great witness Bourdais (AutoHebdo)
‘From the Elf sector to Bourdais’ first participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Henri Pescarolo was decisive in the beginning of the career of the driver from Le Mans. Bourdais talks about the impact Pescarolo had.’
Dutchman Niels Koolen joins VAR for 2023 FREC campaign (VAR)
‘Van Amersfoort Racing is excited to announce that Niels Koolen will join the team for the 2023 Formula Regional European Championship. Koolen completes the driver line-up, and is already a familiar face as he competed in VAR’s alliances with Monlau and Pinnacle Motorsport.’
Grand Prix of Long Beach prepares for another successful race weekend (Long Beach Business Journal)
‘Preparations are underway for Long Beach’s largest event, a weekend that draws upward of 200,000 attendees to Downtown. Last year, when the event returned to its typical April time slot for the first time since 2019, over 188,000 people attended the weekend festivities, a number that the grand prix association’s president suspects could be topped this year, based on current sales numbers.’
Arden complete 2023 Formula Regional line-up with Tom Lebbon (Arden)
‘Arden Motorsport have confirmed English rising star Tom Lebbon will complete the team’s line up for FREC. The 17-year-old joins the team for his first full season in European single-seaters. Lebbon has won the Ginetta Junior championship and finished third in GB3 in 2022.’
Why Hamilton won’t quit Mercedes as ex-F1 team mate opens up on chat with Brit (Mirror)
‘Kovalainen – who spent two seasons as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren and has been his friend ever since – explained why he thinks Hamilton is going to stay where he is despite Mercedes’ poor start to the 2023 season.’
Monolite Racing signs Scionti to FREC programme (FREC)
‘Monolite Racing will be fielding Enzo Scionti in FREC in 2023. Scionti made his single-seater debut in the winter of 2021 by entering the Formula 4 UAE Championship, where he achieved 11 points finishes out of 20 races including a top-five.’
Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi set to join F1 Academy in 2023 (MP Motorsport)
‘The Al Qubaisi sisters, the youngest racers within the Al Qubaisi family, have made history with every lap on track in their short careers, with Amna becoming the first Emirati and female driver to compete in the Formula 4 UAE championship in 2018. Together they will race for MP Motorsport in the new all-women F1 Academy series.’
Wayne Taylor on penalty to Rolex 24 winner: Team accepts call but ‘quietly disappointed’ (NBC Sports)
‘Though a massive penalty to Daytona 24 Hours winner Meyer Shank Racing admittedly left Wayne Taylor wondering about the past, it’s positioned him well for the future. With MSR’s Acura stripped by IMSA of everything but its victory trophy and watches for manipulating tyre pressure data, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s No. 10 car will enter Saturday’s Sebring 12H as the new championship leader and housed in the track’s best pit stall.’
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Happy birthday to Rob Wilson and Drew Storms!