BREAKING | Zanardi involved in a road accident
Former Formula One driver and four-time Paralympic champion Alex Zanardi is undergoing neurosurgery after being involved in a serious road accident in the Italian province of Siena on Friday while taking part in a race on his handbike.
The Italian who raced in F1 between 1991 and 1999, was involved in an accident in the town of Pienza during a national race for Paralympic athletes on handbikes. Repubblica says the accident involved a “heavy vehicle.”
The Siena’s Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital said in a statement that the 53-year-old Italian, who lost both legs and nearly his life in a 2001 Champ Car crash in Germany, was in a “very serious” condition.
According to the latest update at midnight local time, from the hospital treating Alex Zanardi, he underwent three hours of neurological and facial surgery and is now in intensive care in a very serious condition.
The accident according to Sky News Italy happened when Zanardi slipped into the opposite lane where a truck was passing at the time. From what is learned, the pilot reportedly suffered a polytrauma. He was transferred to the Le Scotte hospital in Siena where he arrived with the helicopter.
The Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte Tweeted “You have never given up and with your extraordinary fortitude you have overcome a thousand difficulties. Come on Alex Zanardi, don’t give up. All of Italy is fighting with you.”
the time of going to publish, there has been no official update on his condition nor any word on injuries he may have suffered. Zanardi is a leading Paralympic athlete, having won four gold medals on his handbike in the 2012 and 2016 games.
We will monitor over the weekend and bring you the latest when we get it…
McLaren considers selling thirty per cent stake
McLaren is considering selling a stake of up to 30% in its Formula One team as it seeks to raise extra finance with which to improve its level of competitiveness.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the group hard over the past few months because of the lack of racing and the global slowdown has hit the whole group hard, resulting in staff being furlough. Sky News which broke the story last month, says that it has learnt that the sale only involves shares in McLaren Racing, which also encompasses the Indy team as well as F1.
McLaren sees the introduction of the $145m budget cap in 2021 as an opportunity to be on a level playing field with the established top three. This means that the teams see the regulation changes in 2022 as an opportunity to return to the front.
At the moment McLaren Racing has the same shareholders as its parent, so a sale of a stake in the team would involve some form of restructuring. Around 56% of McLaren Group is owned by Bahrain’s Mumtalakat Holding Company, 14% by Mansour Ojjeh and 10% by Michael Latifi, with the remaining 20% split between minority shareholders.
Latifi has however been linked to an investment in Williams, after he agreed to a loan with the Grove team, and should that happen it remains to be seen whether there will be any impact on his long term McLaren involvement.
Regarding its wider search for funding the parent company also noted that it “is currently looking at a number of potential financing alternatives, secured and unsecured, of up to £275m equivalent to strengthen its liquidity position. An update will be provided as soon as reasonably practicable.”
Last month McLaren Group announced plans to cut staffing levels, with the racing team expected to be trimmed by seventy.
No easy decision to leave Renault – Ri
Daniel Ricciardo says that leaving Renault to join McLaren next season was “by no means an easy decision”. The Australian was part of a series of driver changes for 2021, triggered by Ferrari’s move not to retain Sebastian Vettel at the end of this season.
Speaking on F1’s podcast he says the decision to move was “not as clear” as his decision to leave Red Bull for Renault in 2018. Saying “Without any races, you have to believe. It’s what pitch excites you more than the other.”
Ricciardo will replace Carlos Sainz who has been signed by Ferrari, with him being convinced claim fourth in the championship last season, and by their decision to switch engines to Mercedes for 2021. Renault, by contrast, had a disappointing year.
Adding “Last year is our best reference,” Ricciardo said. “They were the team that made the most noise. they made the biggest step out of all so that was encouraging.”
“That’s all you can base it off and then the pitch for the future. They are switching power-units. It was by no means an easy decision.” that the progress made by McLaren can see them overtake Renault to finish fourth in the constructors.
He said there was no single deciding factor and that the situation was “different” to when he decided to leave Red Bull at the end of 2018.
Mercedes announces Austria upgrade package
Mercedes says it is aiming to bring some upgrades to the opening races the Austrian Grand Prix in two weeks. The world champions go into the season as the favourites for the opening two races, having won at the Red Bull Ring four times since 2014.
The season will start after the first ten races of the season were either cancelled or postponed due to the Coronavirus, which also resulted in all teams observing a lengthy shutdown period. Now, the teams are preparing for eight races in ten weeks.
Mercedes has now turned its focus to adding developments to the car it hopes will deliver a seventh straight set of championships this year. Technical director James Allison said that while the team had been forced to suspend work during the shutdown period, plenty of work had gone into developments for the car where possible, which it hopes to bring to Austria.
In a video on Petronas’s social media channels, Allison said “If you imagine where the launch car was and the car that would have gone to Australia, that was frozen around about Christmas. There was the whole of January, whole of February, March, all making the car quicker in the wind tunnel and also in the design departments.”
“We got quite a lot of ideas about how to make it quicker, and quite a lot of those ideas were already in process through the design office before we were forced to shut down nine weeks ago. Our challenge now is to make sure that quarter of a year of development can get off the drawing boards and onto the car as swiftly as possible.”
Allison says that they are hoping to get the developments on the car as fast as possible.
Ferrari is set to bring an updated engine and gearbox to Austria, but smaller teams such as Haas are suspending development until the calendar and their corresponding budgets for the year are finalised.
He says that the long break from racing will have the greatest toll in the drivers, but doubt both Hamilton and Bottas were well-prepared for the new season to begin.
Saying, “For the drivers, all the peaks of emotion are amplified, the highs are higher, the lows are lower. To get yourself ready to go at the start of a season, and then have it taken away from you the way that it was in Melbourne, that’s tough I think for the drivers to take.”
Leclerc drives through Maranello
Charles Leclerc kicked off Ferrari’s preparations for the return of Formula One by driving its 2020 car through the streets of Maranello. At dawn on Thursday, Leclerc drove the car out of the team’s famous F1 factory. He drove through the town to Ferrari’s test circuit at Fiorano.
It’s marked 110 days since the SF1000 was last on track, ahead of the teams 1,000th Grand Prix in Hungary next month. Leclerc’s route to Fiorano took him past the Gestione Sportiva, where Ferrari’s F1 cars have been designed, built and developed since 2015.
He drove past the Maranello Museum. Ferrari noted he is the first driver of the modern era to drive an F1 car through Maranello. The team are expected to do some testing with a car ahead of Austria in a fortnight.
Ferrari announces Mugello test
Ferrari has announced it will be carrying out its test run next week with both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel at Fiorano. The Italian team is following other teams in testing with 2018 cars ahead of the opening two races in Spielberg at the start of July.
The team had originally planned to conduct an old car test at Fiorano, the switch to Mugello has come against the backdrop of suggestions that the circuit could hold a second Italian race later this year. Any mileage that Ferrari can conduct at the track now would be a benefit if indeed the venue got the green light for a race.
Haas says its unsure about upgrades this year
Haas has announced it won’t be able to bring any upgrades to its car until it can be sure about its income for the shortened 2020 campaign. The season will begin in Austria on 3 – 5 July, there remains great uncertainty about how many races there will be.
That will then impact on how much commercial rights income teams will get this season is unknown due to the drop in revenue because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The situation has made Haas decide
Speaking to some media on Thursday team principal Gunther Steiner said: “In the moment we are not planning any upgrades until we know exactly what we are doing this year budget-wise, and what we are doing race wise. I cannot spend money which I don’t know if I’ve got. There is no point to do that in the moment.”
“We have to be very cautious with what we are doing, because obviously, you know the income is going down in having less races and having races without spectators. So, until it’s very clear I’m very cautious.”
The decision is risky, it could risk Haas falling behind rivals or finding out too late it has the funds to make better parts, Steiner thinks a far worse situation would be to overspend now and find out later that income is much less than predicted.
He says that the decision needed to be made now, as the worst thing would be to spend money you haven’t got. Last season, the teams season was derailed after they put too much faith put in new parts when good results can still come from optimising an older package.
Steiner adds “We learned quite a lot about upgrades. They are never as big as you hope they are. Because in these days, you can do quite a lot on the first car. So, in our opinion, it’s not a necessity to have them.” He says the team needs not to make mistake, going down the wrong road.
Floor changes could lead to aero rework
Racing Point’s technical director Andy Green believes a seemingly minor change to the floor regulations for 2021 will require a “front to back” reworking of the current aerodynamic package.
The changes to the floor are designed to ensure this years Pirelli tyres can be used again next year by in effect cancelling out the usual year-on-year increase in downforce. The research by the team suggests that an altered the flow structure over the car to such extent that it will trigger a completely new package for the 2021 season.
He told Motorsport.com, “We’ve taken a slice of real estate out of the floor in front of the rear tyre. It takes a really large hit aerodynamically to a point where I would be surprised if anybody was able to develop their way out of it in the time we have available for 2021.”
“So I fully expect 2021 cars to be slower than 2020 cars. It’s a huge change, believe it not. A small change relatively speaking to the floor has had quite a significant impact on the performance of the car.”
Green says some teams had hoped for a change that didn’t have such a crucial impact on the flow structure. But, understood that this has to be done to level out performance next year, believing no one will have an advantage as they are all in the same boat.
“It’s just never nice when you do a change to a car and get a very large hit, and you realise that it’s not a small development.”
Due to the shutdown, F1 teams were not able to run their own simulations during the discussions about the change, hence the surprise when that work was done.
Adding “When we decided on the change we weren’t allow to do any simulations on a current car, the simulations were coming from F1 with their modelling. It wasn’t until we got back from the break and started to look at it we realised how big a change it was.”
Teams need to do as much development on this years care before the development cut off for 2021 of 31st December.
Chadwick hopes for substantial backing
Jamie Chadwick says she hopes the “stars will align” after a securing substantial backing to reach Formula One. The W Series champion has signed for the Prema team following support from Rodin Cars’ multi-millionaire boss David Dicker.
The 22-year-old will compete in regional Formula 3 from this August, to rise up to International F3 and F2 with Prema. She said the opportunity was a “dream” and hopes to be in a position to compete in F1 “by 2023 or 2024”.
The British driver, who won the female-only W Series last year, tested a car developed by Rodin in New Zealand in March, leading Dicker to claim she was an “exceptional talent”.
Dicker told BBC News, “Jamie is an exceptional racing talent. We are taking a long-term view on this in fully supporting her journey as she moves up the ladder towards F1.”
Chadwick is a development driver for the Williams F1 team, said the opportunity put in front of her was “black and white” in terms of how much it enhanced her prospects of being the first female driver to compete in a Formula 1 race since Lella Lombardi in 1976.
She added “It’s a dream come true, really. If I had a smaller budget I couldn’t race with a top team like Prema and give myself the best chance to perform and justify being in F1.”
Prema are one of the most successful lower formulae teams, and have progressed the careers of several top drivers, including current Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc
The Week Ahead
We are now in the two-week window ahead of the first Grand Prix of the season, this is often the time when we begin to hear more from the drivers. However these aren’t normal times, it means drivers and teams are less accessible because we are all trying to social distance. The stories are beginning to shift towards the normal pre-season stories in the two weeks before a race.
The other thing that Liberty have promised us is a calendar beyond Monza before Austria, its almost certain that the European season will be extended to end of September beginning of October. Places like Imola, Algarve and Hockenheim have expressed an interest.
The Asian leg appears to be a headache, its only Vietnam and China prepared to host races at the moment. We know Liberty is prioritise those under contract, but it appears difficult to plan months in advance where we can go because of Coronavirus.
The other story is going to be on Alex Zanardi following his accident on Friday, development’s will be brought to you when we get them.