Tag: Autosport

BTCC: Colin Turkington and Jason Plato to race BMR Volkswagens

British Touring Car champion Colin Turkington and record race winner Jason Plato will race as team-mates in Team BMR Volkswagens in 2015.

The top two drivers from last year’s championship fight join Aron Smith and team boss Warren Scott in the fledgling outfit’s quartet of CCs for only its second season in the BTCC.

Both Turkington, whose departure from West Surrey Racing was confirmed last Friday, and ex-MG driver Plato have been signed on multi-year deals, with the team’s marquee 2014 signing Alain Menu and Jack Goff making way.

“It’s taken a while to get to this point and I am relieved,” Turkington told AUTOSPORT.

“I always tried to keep my options open because I knew I was in a potentially very tricky situation.

“I’ve spent quite a few weeks not knowing if I would even be racing at all. That was not easy to understand, having just won the championship.

“I feel it’s the best option outside of WSR. You want to go somewhere you feel you have the chance to win. Given time, there will be the possibility to do that.”

Scott’s team has also signed engineering heavyweights Carl Faux and Kevin Berry to help advance its fleet of CCs.

Plato worked with Faux at MG while Berry, who was at Triple Eight with Plato in 2012, was Turkington’s engineer at WSR for the last two years.

Double champion Plato, whose last title came with the RML-run Chevrolet operation in 2010, believes that technical strength will fast-track the team’s progression from reverse-grid race winner to championship challenger.

“It’s a race-winning car in race three, it’s still not there yet,” he added. “The main thing for me is the right people are involved in the programme.

“I worked with KB in 2012 and Carlos basically designed and developed the MG into the best car on the grid.

“Those two being involved and running the technical department is a very clear sign of how the team’s going to move forward.”

Team boss Scott said he had no worries about managing two of the championship’s best drivers, and played down the suggestion that the inexperience of the team would be a limitation.

“I think the team has coped extremely well with the steps we’ve taken so far,” he told AUTOSPORT. “Although we’re only a two-year-old team, if you look at our years of experience we’ve got a wealth of it.

“If I was going to play, I’d have one car. With four, I’m going to do it properly. When the opportunities come, you’ve got to take them.”

Read more at Autosport

F1: Some teams targeting engine freeze loophole for 2015

The FIA is facing a challenge over Formula 1’s engine freeze, as some teams believe there is a loophole in the 2015 regulations that could hand them extra development time.

With attempts to convince Mercedes to relax the freeze rules to allow rivals a mid-season upgrade having failed, Renault and Ferrari are now pondering how best to make up ground over 2015.

One issue that has emerged in recent technical meetings with the FIA is that there is no date specified in the regulations for when 2015 engines must be homologated.

Although it is widely believed that the new upgraded power units have to be lodged with the FIA for the first race of the season, some teams believe that the way is open for them to not homologate their engine until later in the year.

Such a delay could prove valuable in allowing longer development time to make further improvements.

The matter was brought up by Ferrari technical director James Allison in recent technical meetings with the FIA in Abu Dhabi, but the governing body argued that although no date for homologation is set, other clauses in the engine regulations make it clear what can be done.

In particular, paragraph 2 of Appendix 4 of the F1 Sporting Regulations relating to engine homologation states: “A manufacturer may homologate no more than one specification of power unit.”

The FIA argues that the clause prevents manufacturers from running two types of engine in one season, making a late homologation impossible.

However, teams argue that a manufacturer would still only be homologating a 2015 engine, as any running earlier in the season would be done with its 2014 unit.

One high level source at a team said Ferrari was not alone in questioning the rules.

“There is no specified date to homologate the engine, so in theory you could wait a few races before doing it,” said the source.

“That would allow some valuable development time, but equally would mean starting the year with a slower 2014 engine.”

Although the FIA has expressed its opinion, the door is open for teams to ultimately challenge the matter with race stewards at the Australian Grand Prix if they wanted.

An FIA spokesman made it clear, however, that the governing body hoped to have the matter resolved well before the first race.

“Our position, as stated very clearly in the meeting [in Abu Dhabi], is you can only have one type of homologated engine per year,” he said.

“So whatever you turn up with in Melbourne is your homologated engine.

“It was always envisaged, although not explicitly stated in the rules, that manufacturers would have to deal with modifications on the engine within the constraints of the rules, and then submit their 2015 engine [at the first race].

“It is simple, but when you read it [the rule book], it doesn’t say that unfortunately.

“However, you have paragraph 2 of Appendix 4 and countless meetings beforehand where it was made clear.

“The matter still needs discussing, but we will get it sorted it out before Melbourne.”

Honda, as a new F1 manufacturer, has been told that its 2015 engine must be homologated by February 28 next year rather than for the start of the season.

Read more at Autosport

Formula E: Battersea race gets final approval by local council

London’s Formula E fixture in Battersea Park has been given final approval by the local council.

Wandsworth Borough Council’s community services overview and scrutiny committee last week approved the plans for the Formula E Championship to host its seasonal finale in the London Park at end of June next year.

That decision is due to be rubber-stamped by the council’s executive this week, but the race will still be subject to the necessary planning permission being obtained for the temporary structures required to turn the grade II listed park into a racing venue.

The council’s environment spokesman, councillor Jonathan Cook said: “This is a great opportunity for Battersea to host a major global sporting event and I am sure that many people living locally will be thrilled at the prospect of watching these exciting racing cars in action in the park.”

Tentative approval for the race was given by the relevant council committee in September, but the final decision was delayed from a planned extra-ordinary meeting of that body in October until last week.

That was to allow time for the Heritage Lottery Fund, which made a major investment into the park’s infrastructure between 1998 and 2003, to have its say.

The council only gave its blessing to the Formula E fixture after the HLF concluded that the event was appropriate for the park.

The all-electric event will take place on a track made out of the park’s perimeters roads measuring just under two miles.

The London event, scheduled at the moment for Saturday, June 27, could become a two-day double-header.

Formula E boss Alejandro Agag revealed at the Beijing series opener in September that one of the European venues could hold two races to bring the inaugural championship up to 10 rounds.

A spokesman for Formula E said: “It is an option for London and we want to give ourselves that possibility.

“The planning application has been submitted and we will have to wait until February for the final green light, but we are very positive.”

Read more at Autosport

BTCC: Champion Colin Turkington talking to other teams for 2015

British Touring Car champion Colin Turkington has admitted that he may need to switch teams to continue in the championship next season.

Turkington took the 2014 title with the West Surrey Racing BMW squad, which lost main sponsor eBay last week.

Although the team is looking for a replacement backer, and Turkington is keen to stay, he admitted that he is now looking at different options.

“With eBay not being involved it is making it difficult for me to be there,” said Turkington, who was forced out of the BTCC after taking his first crown – also with WSR – in 2009. “It came as a real surprise to all of us.

“My number one priority is to be on the BTCC grid. I see myself as a British Touring Car driver and I don’t want a repeat of 2009-10.

“I am talking to other teams. At the moment I am unattached.”

Turkington also said he was happy to race rear-wheel-drive machines, like WSR’s BMW 125i M Sport, or front-wheel-drive cars, which form the majority of the grid.

“You want to put yourself in the car that has the best chance to win, irrespective of whether it’s FWD or RWD,” he added.

“I’ve done both before and been successful.”

Read more at Autosport

F1: supremo Bernie Ecclestone ‘disappointed’ in Sebastian Vettel

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says he is disappointed in Sebastian Vettel for the way he behaved during his difficult 2014 campaign.

Ecclestone, who has been a long-time supporter of Vettel, believes the German adopted the wrong approach in getting frustrated by the troubles he had with poor reliability and a down-on-power Renault engine.

“I’m a super supporter of Sebastian, but I’m a little bit disappointed with his attitude, which I think has changed,” said Ecclestone, in the foreword to the official Formula 1 season review.

“He’s acting like a defeated guy, and he isn’t – that’s not his mentality.

“He’s a competitive guy. He doesn’t like losing at backgammon. Unfortunately, when he plays me, he does.”

Ecclestone also suggests that Fernando Alonso could have acted better during a troubled second half to the season that resulted in him parting ways with Ferrari.

“Ferrari was very disappointing, getting lost somewhere,” added Ecclestone.

“Fernando got a little bit like Sebastian halfway through, so I’m a little disappointed in him, too.”

Ecclestone reckons, on the back of Mercedes’ dominance, 2014 could have been a terrible season if the Brackley-based outfit had not let its drivers race against each other.

“If we hadn’t been lucky with Nico [Rosberg] and Lewis [Hamilton] racing each other and one of them had got away and been dominant, the season would have been over by Silverstone,” he said.

“I thought perhaps Ferrari or Red Bull or one of the other teams would catch up halfway through the season and make up a few points at the end

“We’ve been extremely lucky with what happened, these two guys have been racing each other and it’s good that Mercedes allowed them to do that.

“If not, we would have had a really lousy championship.”

Read more at Autosport