World Endurance Championship

  • 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Preview

    By Paul Healy

    This weekend sees Formula One move to Europe. The first European race since the start of the 2022 Championship. The race takes place at The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo E Dino located in Imola.

    F1 returned to Imola in 2020 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. It was initially planned as a one off race , however it is now a permanent fixture to the F1 calendar.

    This weekend will feature a sprint race on Saturday afternoon which means Qualifying will be on Friday. This season points will be awarded to the top eight places in the sprint as opposed to the top three last year. Also any car that fails to complete the sprint race will start from the rear of the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

    The results from the sprint race on Saturday will dictate the grid for Sunday. Pole position for the sprint race will go to the quickest driver in Friday Qualifying.

    Drivers will get a single one hour practice session early on Friday before Qualifying for the sprint race in the afternoon. There is a second practice session which is an hour . This takes place on Saturday morning before the Sprint race in the afternoon.

    The Imola circuit is a 4.909km anti clockwise track consisting of 19 corners. It is fairly narrow in places which presents challenges for overtaking. The surface is bumpy and it is a high downforce circuit with 70% of the lap taken at full throttle. The track sees a maximum speed of up to 311km/ph. The lap record here is a 1:13.609s set by Valtteri Bottas in 2020. Michael Schumacher has clocked up the most wins with seven victories at the Imola circuit.

    The favourites without a doubt this weekend will be Ferrari as Imola is regarded as their home circuit , so expect the fans also known as Tiflis to be out in force this weekend.

    Ferrari come into this weekend with Charles Leclerc leading the championship after having a great start to the season winning in Bahrain and Australia.

    Hot on Leclerc’s tail is Max Verstappen of Red Bull.The 2021 World Champion won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Lerclerc and Verstappen are clearly rivals this season but Verstappen will be confident having wine in Imola last year in a cat and mouse battle with Lewis Hamilton.

    After an eight year domination of F1 Mercedes this year still hasn’t won a single race of the 2022 championship thus far. The Silver arrows appear to have a problematic car with proporsing a clear issue which the team need to rectify in order to be more competitive this year. George Russell grabbed a P3 finish in Melbourne and Hamilton finished on the podium in Bahrain. How will Mercedes do this weekend in Imola ? Have they fixed the issues with the W13? Only time will tell.

    2022 Formula 1 Emilia Romagna GP session timings in the UK

    Friday 22nd April 2022

    • Free Practice 1: 12:30 – 13:30 BST
    • Qualifying: 16:00 – 17:00 BST

    Saturday 23rd April 2022

    • Free Practice 2: 11:30 – 12:30 BST
    • Sprint: 15:30 – 16:30 BST

    Sunday 24th April 2022

    • Race: 14:00 BST
  • Australian F1Grand Prix 2022 Preview

    By Paul Healy

    Formula One action returns this weekend as the Championship heads to The Albert Park race circuit in Melbourne. After a three year absence from the calendar since 2020 F1 returns Down Under.

    In 2020 the F1 Australian Grand Prix was cancelled at the last minute due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, and was unable to return to Australia due to the strict travel restrictions which have now been eased.

    The track is a fourteen-turn, 5.278 km or 3.280 mile circuit which takes place in Ablert Park . The track has undergone recent resurfacing and some other slight modifications. The new layout is 24 meters shorter which is expected to result in shorter lap times.Turns 1, 3, 6, 11 and 13 have all been widened to promote overtaking .

    The biggest change is the previous Turn 9/10 chicane, which has been turned into a fast flick that leads onto the high-speed left-right sequence. The pitlane has also been widened to allow more space. The lap record here was a 1:25.580 by Valtteri Bottas in 2019 the last time an F1 race was held here as the 2020 edition was cancelled before FP1 could commence. Bottas won the 2019 race for the Mercedes team.

    In the last round of the 2022 championship in Saudi Arabia Max Verstappen won for Red Bull ahead of Charles Lexlerc of Ferrari who is off to a strong start this season after a win in the opening round in Bahrain and a second place in Jeddah. Going into this weekend Leclerc is the favourite with the Monegasque leading the Driver’s championship with 45 points. Expect the battle between Verstappen of Red Bull and Leclerc of Ferrari to continue in Australia .

    Mercedes have history done well in Melbourne, however despite a p3 and p4 finish in the opening round , the silver arrows still struggle to get to grips with the porpoising issues. In terms of on track performance or in new Mercedes driver George Russell surprisingly who is quicker while The 7- time world champion Lewis Hamilton appears to be struggling.

    The Australian Grand Prix will no doubt be a special occasion for the Aussie driver Daniel Ricciardo, however there are troubles at McLaren with the team collecting just six points from the opening two races and a loss of power forced Ricciardo to retire the car last time out in Jeddah.

    This year sees an extra DRS zones , making 4 zones and together with the a number of corners being modified and the track resurfaced it should make for more exciting racing but only time will tell.

    2022 Formula 1 Australian GP session timings in the UK

    Friday 8th April 2022

    • Free Practice 1: 04:00 – 05:00 BST
    • Free Practice 2: 07:00 – 08:00 BST

    Saturday 9th April 2022

    • Free Practice 3: 04:00 – 05:00 BST
    • Qualifying: 07:00 – 08:00 BST

    Sunday 10th April 2022

    • Race: 06:00 BST
  • F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Preview

    By Paul Healy

    Round two of the 2022 Formula 1 World Chau will take place this weekend in Saudi Arabia.

    Last year Saudi Arabia held its first ever F1 race hosting the penultimate round of the 2021 Championship season in December. This weekend sees Formula One return to the costal city of Jeddah after just four months.

    The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix takes place at the Jeddah Corniche circuit, a 6.174km street circuit . It is a super fast track with 27 corners, 16 to the left and 11 to the right .

    Since last year the race track has been resurfaced and a number of corners have been widened, in particular the final turn which allows cars to carry more speed into the start / finish straight.

    The lap record here is a 1:30.734 set by Lewis Hamilton last year. It is one of the fastest circuits on the F1 calendar with average speeds of up to 250km/h and sweeping high speed corners.

    Last year the Jeddah circuit hosted the second to last race of the F1 2021 Championship. The title race between Hamilton and Max Verstappen was very tight. In qualifying on the Saturday it appears Verstappen was going to clinch pole position, however the Dutchman made an error and clipped the wall at the last corner. As a result The Red Bull driver started P3 on the grid while rival Hamilton took Pole.

    In the race on Sunday at Jeddah last year the 7-time World Champion Hamilton took victory with the Brit bagging his 8th win of the season . Verstappen could only manage second . Hamilton also picked up a point for the fastest lap which meant both drivers were equal on points heading into the final round of the Season.

    Following the season opener of 2022 In Bahrain Ferrari arrive in Saudi Arabia on the top of both the drivers championship and constructors championship thanks to a 1-2 victory by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

    Ferrari surprised their rivals in the opening round thanks to the power train of the Ferrari F1-75. The season has only just begun and there’s a long way to go until the end of the season and the Italian team from Maranello can expect tough competition in the form of Red Bull and Mercedes.

    Red Bull will be looking to put the events of Bahrain behind them as they focus on the second round of the Championship. In Bahrain both Red Bull RB18’s suffered power unit failures which saw Verstappen and Sergio Perez forced to abandon the race. Red Bull will be wanting to prove why they are one of the favourites by having a strong performance and hopefully having sorted out the engine issues for this weekend .

    Mercedes will be hoping for an improvement this weekend in Jeddah. Hamilton finished third with team mate George Russell in fourth in his first race as a Mercedes driver. The Mercedes W13 lacked speed and appeared unstable during cornering and was greatly hampered by the porpoising issues.

    The silver arrows appear to be unhappy with their setup currently as the team aren’t where they should be in terms of performance. This is unusual for Mercedes to be lacking this speed as in previous seasons Mercedes we’re the team to beat.

    McLaren will be hopeful of a better weekend in Saudi Arabia with both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris finishing in P14 and P15 outside the points in the opening round of the season. McLaren will need to improve to contend for the Championship or have they moved to the mid pack now? Only time will tell.

    2022 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian GP session timings in the UK

    Friday 25th March 2022

    • Free Practice 1: 14:00 – 15:00 GMT
    • Free Practice 2: 17:00 – 18:00 GMT

    Saturday 26th March 2022

    • Free Practice 3: 14:00 – 15:00 GMT
    • Qualifying: 17:00 – 18:00 GMT

    Sunday 27th March 2022

    • Race: 18:00 BST*

    * Please note that daylight saving begins in the UK at 1am on Sunday 27th March

  • Bahrain F1 Grand Prix Preview 2022

    By Paul Healy

    The inaugural race of the 2022 F1 season, the Bahrain GP, is now just days away and we could not be any more excited about it. The race will mark the beginning of what is expected to be a very interesting season and probably the start of an entirely new era in F1. 

    An entirely new and different set of regulations have been introduced for the 2022 championship and it remains to be seen which teams have produced a car which stands above the rest of the grid. 

    2022 Cars 

    In a nutshell the main differences of the cars this year are that the tires have increased from 13- inches to 18 inches in size. If pre-season testing is anything to go by, this tyre size increase hasn’t seemed to affect the drivers thus far. Other main changes with the cars is that they are 5% heavier than last year’s car and they have been designed in such a way as to promote closer racing by designing the cars to be able to follow the car in front easier and to follow using a principal called ground effects, an aerodynamic mechanism that uses the floor of the cars to suck them to the ground whilst at the same time reducing the turbulence at the rear. This will allow the cars to get much closer  and thus promote overtaking. 

    The 2022 F1 car will feature a totally new front wing shape, with the design of the 2022 car, the new front wing’s job is to both generate consistent downforce when running closely behind another car, and ensure that the front wheel wake is well controlled and directed down the car in the least disruptive way. 

    The 2022 car will also feature a new rear wing design. Its ‘rolled tips’ shape and position create a rotational airflow. The job is to collect rear wheel wake and then roll it into the flow exiting the diffuser. In simple terms, it forms an invisible wake shaped like a ‘mushroom’. 

    The 1.6 litre Turbo- hybrid engine of last year will remain unchanged however the FIA have introduced additional components to the fuel system and extra sensors so they can monitor the cars power unit. 

    Another noticeable feature of the 2022 cars is the new over-wheel winglets. The over-wheel winglets will make the cars more resilient ‘aerodynamically’. Thus, the outcome for drivers when racing close to other cars will be better control of the wake coming off the front tyres and also having airflow directed away from the rear wing traditionally achieved by vortices from the front wing. 

    The Circuit 

    The Bahrain International Circuit is a 5.412 km long located in Sakhir, Bahrain. It is very much located in the desert which means the track surface is often affected by sand being blown onto it and was formerly used as a Camel farm. The track is very much a stop start circuit with the track known to be particularly harsh on brakes. Higher tyre degradation is to be expected here as the track is one of the roughest on the 2022 calendar. 

    Turn 1 is the most difficult braking zone as the drivers’ hit speeds of 300km/h before slowing to approximately 80km/h. The track sees a top speed of 326km/h with 71 gear changes per lap. The race on Sunday will be a night race but FP1 and FP3 take place during daytime so tyre selection won’t mean a great deal however FP2 is during the evening. The compounds available will be the medium, soft and super soft.  

    2022 Race 

    With the new regulation changes the driver line-up has changed too. George Russel moves from Williams to Mercedes, whilst Valtteri Bottas goes from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo. Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou makes his debut for Alfa Romeo. Kevin Magnussen makes a last-minute return to the F1 paddock replacing Nikita Mazepin at Haas. 

    During pre-season testing Ferrari and Red bull appear to be favourites coming into the opening round of the 2022 Championship. Mercedes who have dominated Formula One for a number of years didn’t seem to have the pace in testing. It appears Mercedes need to do a lot of work to understand the car, but the question is can they get it right before Sunday’s race? 

    2022 Formula 1 Bahrain GP session timings in the UK  

    Friday 18th March 2022 

    • Free Practice 1: 12:00 – 13:00 GMT 
    • Free Practice 2: 15:00 – 16:00 GMT 

    Saturday 19th March 2022 

    • Free Practice 3: 12:00 – 13:00 GMT 
    • Qualifying: 15:00 – 16:00 GMT 

    Sunday 20th March 2022 

    • Race: 15:00 GMT 

  • WEC 2022 Sebring 1000 Miles Preview

    By Paul Healy

    After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the FIA World Endurance Championship returns to action at Sebring International Raceway marking the opening round of the World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring. The action begins with Qualifying on Thursday with the race on Friday. 

    A field of 36 cars will take part in the 1000 Miles of Sebring with qualifying on Thursday, March 17 with the race on Friday. This is the second edition of the 1000-mile fixture and marks the WEC’s 10-year anniversary. 

    The Sebring itself is a notoriously bumpy and demanding circuit to race on at just over 6 km in lengh. Weather will also be a factor with the drivers expected to undertake the 1000mile in very humid conditions. 

    The Hypercar class is  led by two Toyota GR010 Hybrids of Toyota Gazoo Racing, as well as the privateer Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus team with their 007 LMH, and the LMP1 car from Alpine. 

    In LMP2 the two teams to look out for will be 2021 champions Team WRT and United Autosports with either team expected to claim victory in the opening round. 

    As rookies in 2021 Team WRT made themselves one of the favourites and are certainly expected to continue their winning streak from last year. 

    United Autosports will be hoping to improve in 2022, after disappointing qualifying and race pace issues that emerged towards the tail end of the 2021 season. 

    Sebastien Ogier will make his debut as he takes to the wheel for Richard Mille Racing Team. The team, which notably had opted for female-only line ups in the past two seasons, has moved to a mixed gender driver line up.  

    Four cars of the 15 LMP2 make up the Pro-Am category, with GTE team AF Corse ones to keep an eye on. The Ferrari-backed team has moved up to LMP2 from GTE this season. The trio onboard the LMP2 car are, Nicklas Nielsen, Francois Perrodo and Alessio Rovera. 

    In GTE Pro the Porsche and Ferrari rivalry is due to be on again this season, but Corvette Racing are back on the grid, for the first time as a full season entry as they look to join in on the action too. Corvette have appeared in sporadic races over the years and a few appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but never have the team competed in a full season WEC before. 

    GTE Am class sees Porsche backed team Dempsey-Proton Racing as pre-race favourites with Team Project 1 also Porsche hot on their heels. 

    The two Ferrari-running entries of Iron Lynx and Iron Dames both looked promising in pre-season testing and will certainly keep the GTE Am class exciting. 

    Qualifying for the 1000 Miles of Sebring on Thursday, March 17 will start at 19:00 local time (-4 GMT) at Sebring International Raceway. 

    The race will get underway Friday, March 18 at 12:00 noon local time (-4 GMT). 

    Qualifying: 

    • Date: Thursday, March 17, 2022 
    • Start time: 19:00 local time / 23:00 GMT / 00:00 CET / 10:00 AEDT (Friday) / 04:30 IST (Friday) 

    Race: 

    • Date: Friday, March 18, 2022 
    • Start time: 12:00 local time / 16:00 GMT / 17:00 CET / 03:00 AEDT (Saturday) / 21:30 IST