The last week has been full on for Formula One as the 2nd in-season test took place on Tuesday and Wednesday at Silverstone. All teams except Sauber were in attendance and used the valuable 2 days to test new parts and setups ahead of the business end of the season.
The test followed the 2016 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Normal testing guidelines applied with one car being run per team. However Mercedes also ran a modified 2014 W05 Hybrid to conduct tire testing for Pirelli. Manor driver, Pascal Wehrlein, conducted the tire tests which saw prototype 2017 elements tested on 2016 sized tires.
Young drivers were the talking point of the test. Current rules mandate the use of a young driver (who has less than 2 Grand Prix’s experience) on at least 2 of the 4 in-season test days. Some of these young drivers were GP2 competitors, such as, Pierre Gasly (Red Bull), Jordan King (Manor), Alex Lynn (Williams) and Sergey Sirotkin (Renault) all took part. Several GP3 drivers also filled in, with Charles Leclerc and Santino Ferucci taking part for Ferrari and Haas respectively. DTM rookie, Esteban Ocon tested for Mercedes whilst Formula 3 racer, Nikita Mazepin conducted testing duties for Force India on both days.
Every compound of Pirelli tire was used over the course of the test, with rain affecting much of the Day 1 afternoon. Mercedes continued to reign supreme over the test, completing a whopping 262 laps to finish 2016 in-season testing with the most laps.
In other news, Pirelli announced the compound choices for the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix in late October. The Italian tire supplier will bring their Super-Soft, Soft and Medium compound tires to the race. The mandatory sets which each driver must have available for the race will be the white-striped Medium tire and the yellow-striped Soft tire. Each driver will be required to use at least one of these compounds.
Mexico is the 11th of 19 announced races to use Super-Soft Soft, and Medium compounds. Last year the race used the Medium and Soft compounds and saw Nico Rosberg win with a two-stop strategy. However the 2nd stop was precautionary – and the race could have realistically been one-stopped. With this in mind, it is likely we see teams use the softs and and super-softs to conduct a two stop strategy – with many likely opting to not use the medium tire, similar to what we have seen in the previous two races.
Lastly in Formula One news, Rumors have been circulating that Apple could potentially look at buying Formula One. The move would see the tech giant take over every aspect of the sport. There is no conclusive proof to this, and it is just a rumor, but an interesting one to consider.
Away from Formula One, NASCAR, Indycar and DTM have been the motorsport to follow this weekend. DTM visits Circuit Park Zandvoort in the Netherlands for the 5th round of the Championship. DTM is the top touring car series in Germany and has provided a career path to Formula One for drivers such as Paul di Resta and Pascal Wehrlein.
Race 1 took place on Saturday, and Mercedes driver, Robert Wickens, took a dominant victory from pole position, finishing 7 seconds ahead of Championship leader, Marco Wittman. Christian Vietoris rounded out the podium for Mercedes after making a last lap move at Turn 1 on Englishman Gary Paffett. Mercedes took the day with 5 cars in the points – (1st, 3rd, 4th, 8th and 9th).
Audi took out Sunday’s Race 2, with pole sitter Jamie Green taking his maiden win of the season after only ever being challenged by Race 1 winner, Robert Wickens. Unfortunately for Wickens, his attacks for the lead would be thwarted early on when he ran wide and dropped down the order, eventually only managing to finish 16th. Gary Paffett’s strong weekend continued as he finished 2nd, albeit 9.2 seconds behind Green. Italian, Edoardo Mortara would complete the podium after a consistent drive. Audi finished the race with drivers in 1st (Green), 3rd (Mortara), 5th (Muller) and 7th (Ekstrom).
NASCAR went to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for 301 laps this week, with Matt Kenseth taking a late victory after late race cautions. Jimmie Johnson led from the pole but quickly lost the lead to the much faster Kyle Busch who dominated the Xfinity race on Saturday. Another fast man was Martin Truex Jr. who quickly made his way up to the front of the field after starting 3rd – Busch couldn’t hold him back and Truex Jr. led most of the middle part of the race. Truex Jr. continued to look a keen favorite toward the end of the race, but his car would get stuck in 4th gear and he would drop back on the restarts, eventually finishing 16th. In the end, Matt Kenseth was unchallenged and the most exciting battle at the end was for 2nd between Joey Logano and veteran Tony Stewart. With just 3 to go Stewart’s pressure on Logano would pay off as he slipped by to take 2nd. Kenseth took his 2nd victory ahead of the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 7 races time.
Indycar was on the streets of Toronto this week and Team Penske would finish 1-2 with Will Power leading home Helio Castroneves. The first part of the race belonged to Scott Dixon as he led from pole position – but luck was with Power who was on pit road when a caution came out, thrusting him up the order to first whilst Dixon was forced to stop under Green Flag racing, losing considerable time. Dixon would go onto finish 8th. Toronto’s hometown hero, James Hinchcliffe, would round out the podium, finishing 3rd. Will Power has now moved into 2nd in the championship – with just 47 points between himself and championship leader, Simon Pagenaud.
Back to Formula One, and this week sees us head to the Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary. The track has been on the calendar since 1985 – and witnessed one of its best races last year. The only race of the year where Mercedes didn’t grace the podium – Sebastian Vettel dominated after taking the lead off the line! We’ll be hoping for something similar this weekend.