Lewis Hamilton Gets 2019 Australian GP Pole Position and New Track Record

It will be an all Mercedes front row for the Australian Grand Prix tomorrow as Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole position on Saturday. Putting in a 1:20.486 lap, the British driver set a new best lap for the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit. Qualifying behind by 0.112s, Valtteri Bottas will start on the front row as well. The second row will have Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari and Max Verstappen from Red Bull Racing. Charles Leclerc from Ferrari placed fifth with the two Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen placing sixth and seventh. The other Red Bull driver, Pierre Gasly, placed 17th.

Q1

In the first qualifying session, it was Charles Leclerc who got first place, beating both Mercedes drivers who were holding the place before. Williams were in the bottom two places during Q1 with Robert Kubica going into the grass during a hot lap. Lance Stroll was knocked into 16th place in the final minutes of the session. Sebastian Vettel made it through to Q2 in Medium tyres, as opposed to most of the grid who drove in Softs.

Q2

In Q2 it was Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo who came the closest to moving on but failed. The two Toro Rosso drivers Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat also did get eliminated. Antonio Giovinazzi was eliminated while his teammate Kimi Raikkonen moved on.

Q3

Before Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole position with his record lap, Valtteri Bottas also set a track record with a 1:20.598 lap. Vettel placed third but has a 0.704 gap to the top lap. Sergio Perez drove the slowest lap in Q3, being 2.295s behind Hamilton.

Mercedes hopes to use their front row lockout to their highest potential tomorrow when the Australian Grand Prix takes place. The broadcast starts at 1 AM EST.

Lewis Hamilton Puts In Best FP1 and FP2 Laps At Albert Park – 2019 Australian GP

Lewis Hamilton topped both Friday practice sessions in Australia, ahead of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

FP1

In Free Practice 1 it was last year’s champion Lewis Hamilton who had the fastest lap. Putting in a 1:23.599, Hamilton was ahead of Sebastian Vettel by 0.038. His teammate Valtteri Bottas was 5th on the timing sheet, behind by 0.267. Charles Leclerc was in third place, behind by 0.074s.

During the session there was a red flag put out due to Alexander Albon spinning out in sector one. The car collided with a barrier, making the front wing of the car fall off. Valtteri Bottas spun in sector three but avoided making contact with any walls.

The two Williams cars placed last in the timing sheet, both being more than four seconds behind the best lap. George Russell stopped his car on pit lane at one point in the session and had his car pushed back to his box.

Kimi Raikkonen was the highest placing driver in this session who isn’t in a 2018 top three team, as he joined the Alfa Romeo squad this year.

FP2

In the second practice session Lewis Hamilton found himself improving his FP1 lap time, clocking in a 1:22.600 lap to get first place. Fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was behind him by 0.048s. The Red Bull Racing duo of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly took third and fourth with Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari taking fifth. Gasly reported a loss of power in the car with only a few minutes left in the session.

Alexander Albon’s troubles continued into the second practice session as he went off track in sector 3, losing control by hitting grass beside the track.

Kimi Raikkonen continued to be the highest placing driver who wasn’t from Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull. Renault placed 7th and 8th after Ricciardo was in 17th in FP1.

Williams continued to struggle in the second practice session, nearly being a second slower than everyone on the grid.

The final practice session will be held tomorrow at 11 PM EST with the qualifying held at 2 AM EST. The Formula 1 season will officially commence on Sunday when the Australian Grand Prix takes place at 1 AM EST.

Formula 1 Race Director Charlie Whiting Passes Away At Age 66

Formula One’s Race Director Charlie Whiting passed away on Wednesday night at age 66. The FiA (Federation Internationale De L’Automobile) put out a on Wednesday statement saying that he suffered pulmonary embolism. “I have known Charlie Whiting for many years and he has been a great Race Director, a central and inimitable figure in Formula One who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport,” said FIA President Jean Todt in the statement.

The loss comes before F1’s inaugural 2019 race weekend in Australia. On Thursday a press conference was held where drivers reflected on Charlie Whiting and his impact. “I spoke to him yesterday… Difficult to grasp when somebodies just not there anymore,” said Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. Whiting first became involved in F1 in 1988 when he was a Technical Delegate for the sport.

“We just have to appreciate every day and every morning you wake up and that you enjoy life and that it’s not only about Formula 1 but a lot of other things in life,” said Max Verstappen, reflecting on Whiting’s sudden passing. Verstappen also told a story about how he chatted with Whiting in Geneva recently. F1 put out a tribute video online on Thursday which recapped his career in motorsport and his impact on the sport.

Sky Sports have released out an interview where current F1 Managing Director and former driver now Motorsport journalist Martin Brundle reflected on Whiting.
It has been reported that Michael Masi will be the race director for this weekend. Masi has formerly worked in a similar position with the V8 Supercars series.

Formula 1 2019 Season Preview

If this year’s offseason for Formula 1 could be defined by two words it would be “team changes.” Out of the 20 driver field, 12 of them find themselves in a different position than last year. Some left, some moved up or down the totem pole, and some made the rare return to the top tier of motorsport. The two most focused on teams will, of course, be Mercedes and Ferrari, but everyone has their own unique story heading into this weekend in Melbourne.

Fans of Formula 1 have been given a TV series to watch ahead of the 2019 season called “Formula 1: Drive To Survive.” The series followed teams throughout the 2018 season, chronicling struggles through 10 episodes. The first episode focused on Red Bull Racing and Haas during the 2018 Australian Grand Prix. The show mostly focused on the bottom eight teams in the series, as Mercedes and Ferrari initially opted to not participate in the show.

2019 Race Schedule Schedule

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

Mercedes come into the 2019 season being champions of the past five seasons. Being the most dominant and successful team also makes them the least interesting one. The team is one of the only this year to keep their previous lineup. Five-time champion Lewis Hamilton will team with Valtteri Bottas, looking for a third trophy in a row in the World Drivers Championship. Bottas did not win any races last year but had consistent point placings within the top 10. Both drivers will be behind the Mercedes AMG F1 W10 EQ Power+ car. It has the Mercedes M10 EQ Power+ power unit, which ROKiT Williams Racing will also be using this year.

Scuderia Ferrari

Veteran Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel will be joined by Charles Leclerc this year. Leclerc previously raced for Sauber in the 2018 season, being a rookie in the tour. His best placing in the year was 6th, placing in the points 10 times in the year. He is replacing Kimi Raikkonen, who drove under Ferrari for five seasons. He essentially swaps places with Leclerc as he is going to Alfa Romeo Racing (formerly Sauber). Vettel is going into his fifth year with Ferrari, finishing 2nd in the Driver’s Championship in his past two years. Vettel stayed in the fold of the championship last year until the third last race, the Mexican Grand Prix. He had a successful first half of the season, winning five of 11 races. Lewis Hamilton had only won four at that point. In the second half of the season, Vettel only won one race while Hamilton won seven. The battle for the championship was much more intense at the start of the year. With a clean slate, Vettel will aim to keep his streak going through the whole season this year. Vettel and Leclerc will drive the SF90 car this year with the Ferrari 064 engine, which two other teams also use.

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

This year, Red Bull Racing saw a change in their driver line-up and engine brand. The team formerly ran the Renault R.E. 18 which was called a TAG Heuer engine, but this year they have a Honda RA619H in their RP19 car. This came after the team had 11 DNFs in the 42 times their cars were entered in races last year. What’s interesting is Honda hasn’t had great engines in the past either, with McLaren ending the partnership after the 2017 season to go to Renault. How Honda’s reliability will hold up against Renault will be a story to follow in the season. The lineup for Red Bull is Pierre Gasly and Max Verstappen. Gasly comes from Toro Rosso, the team which he attained 29 points for in 2018. The season was his first full one in F1, although he did race five near the end of 2017 for the team. Max Verstappen stays with Red Bull this year, making it his fourth year with the team. In 2018 he was the highest ranked driver that didn’t come from Ferrari or Mercedes, placing fourth.

Renault F1 Team

In 2018, Renault was the top team that wasn’t in the top three. From one of those top three teams, that being Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo will be coming down to Renault for this season. He is joined by Nico Hulkenberg, who is going on his third year with the team. Ricciardo will be, ironically, leaving his Red Bull car that gave him tons of troubles for another car which is also Renault powered. Ricciardo is the only driver in the field that has home field advantage at the first race of the season in Australia. The chassis for this year is called the R.S. 19, and the engine is the Renault E-Tech 19.

Rich Energy Haas F1 Team

The only current North American F1 team Haas is one of the only teams to have the same lineup as last year. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will drive for the team as they have for the past two years (and a third for Grosjean). The team secured a new title sponsor for this season called Rich Energy. The team will be using their VF-19 model with a Ferrari 064 engine.

McLaren F1 Team

McLaren has a lineup of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. in 2019. Norris did a slew of test drives for the time last year while placing second in Formula 2. In his F2 season he had one win and five podiums. Sainz is participating in his fifth year of F1, but joining McLaren for the first time. He drove with Renault and Toro Rosso in the past. McLaren is using the MCL34 chassis with the Renault E-Tech 19 engine.

SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team

After Lance Stroll drove for Williams for two years in a pay driver position, his father has purchased Force India for this year. The pink car duo found itself under huge financial troubles in the 2018 season. Lawrence Stroll, whose net worth is 2.6 billion US dollars, bought the team, securing a seat for his son in the next season. He’s filling in for Esteban Ocon, who doesn’t find himself in the 2019 Formula 1 lineup. Stroll’s teammate is Sergio Perez, who is staying with the same team. The team went by Force India last year but now go by Racing Point, also securing the title sponsor of SportPesa, a sports gambling website.

Alfa Romeo Racing

Alfa Romeo Racing takes on a completely new lineup with Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi flying the team’s colours this year. Raikkonen, the now 39-year-old will drive for the team after being with Ferrari for five years. He placed third in the 2018 Drivers’ Championship, behind Lewis Hamilton and former Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel. Raikkonen’s teammate Giovinazzi will be a rookie in the series after being a Ferrari and Haas test driver in the past. He also participated in the 24h of Le Mans in 2018, placing 5th in the LMGTE Pro category with the AF Corse team. The team has dropped the Sauber part of their name and now just goes by Alfa Romeo. They will drive a C38 which sports a similar livery to the year before, and a Ferrari 064 engine.

Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda

Toro Rosso said goodbye to both their past drivers this year, bringing in Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat is one of the two drivers this season who are returning to the tour after an absence. Kvyat was present in Formula 1 since 2013 but disappeared in 2018. In that time he was a development driver for Ferrari. He has now found himself back on the grid alongside Alexander Albon, who is set to make his F1 debut. Albon is an example of someone who has climbed up the open-wheel ladder. He was in the regional F3 series in 2015, and then GP3 in 2016, and just finished his second season in Formula 2. In the 2018 season, Albon won four races for the team DAMS. This year he will be driving a STR14 with a Honda RA619H engine, as will Kvyat.

ROKiT Williams Racing

Williams has had a rough start to the 2019 season even though no racing has taken place yet. In the February testing at Barcelona, the team only started to drive on the third of 10 testing days due to the car not being ready yet. Their lineup this year will be rookie driver George Russell and the returning Robert Kubica. Kubica is making his Formula 1 comeback after suffering major injuries from a crash while rally racing in 2011. A report from Autosport in 2011 said he suffered “multiple fractures to his right arm, leg and hand.”  He was a test driver for Williams all of last year, but will finally get to race this year. His teammate George Russell is a 21-year-old who has been dominant in the Formula 1 feeder tours. In 2017, Russell won four races and became the GP3 Series champion. In 2018, he won seven races in the Formula 2 series and placed first once again. His skill will be tested once he steps into the big league for the first time. Williams will be the only team on the grid besides Mercedes themselves to be using a Mercedes M10 EQ Power+ engine. The chassis for the car is the FW42. The team lost longtime sponsor “Martini” at the end of the 2018 season, but have partnered with ROKiT, a smartphone company that have yet to launch products.

The Graduating Class of 2018

Formula One said goodbye to five drivers this year. The graduating class of Formula One for 2018 was Marcus Ericsson, Stoffel Vandoorne, Esteban Ocon, Sergey Sirotkin, Brendon Hartley and Fernando Alonso. The biggest name on the list is easily Alonso because he is a former World Drivers’ Champion and veteran of the sport. If this was an actual graduation, he would be the valedictorian.

Big and Small Changes

Formula 1’s tyres will undergo a change in their presentation in 2019. There will be five types of tyres, but the three ones used on any given race weekends will be called Soft, Medium and Hard tyres. This is done to make it easier to understand the tyres and their meaning, because in previous years there were many tyres all with unique names.

This year the Mexican Grand Prix will go ahead of the United States Grand Prix on the calendar.

Different from previous years, in this season if a driver weighs below 80kg, weights will be put in their car to make them that weight. This rule was put forward so that weight cutting isn’t as much of a factor in the sport. The weight of the driver is measured separately from the car that he drives in.

Cars are allowed more fuel at the start of the race so that preserving fuel isn’t as much of a factor.

As Australia Approaches

It is only days until we will see Formula 1 cars back on the track. The season kicks off in Albert Park, Melbourne, with the first race on Sunday at 1 AM EST (4 PM local time). If you’re even more eager to see the cars, the first practice session will be on Thursday at 9 PM EST (Friday at noon in Melbourne). The points board is wiped, everyone’s slate is clean, and now people have another chance to prove themselves. Will it be another year for the Silver Arrows? Or will Ferrari break their streak? Can another team come in and be a top tier competitor? We will have to watch and see.

Kyle Busch Wins Boyd Gaming 300 in NASCAR Overtime

Less than 24 hours after his Gander Outdoors Truck Series win, Kyle Busch was in victory lane once again, winning the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The win came after two NASCAR Overtimes, with Busch staying ahead of John-Hunter Nemechek to close out the race.

Busch overcame some obstacles to win the race. He started in the top 10 but had to pit under green early on as a wheel was loose. He worked his way up and took the lead on lap 112, battling with Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick for a long time. After Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell got caught up in an incident during the first Overtime, Busch started on a front row with Nemechek to win.

Stage 1 went to Cole Custer and Stage 2 was won by Tyler Reddick. Both stage wins came with a lead over a lap ahead of the second place driver.

“It’s cool to be able to back up Christopher’s win last week and bring the Supra back to victory lane,” said Busch after he became the second driver to win an Xfinity race in a Toyota Supra. The car model was only debuted in the Xfinity series at Daytona in February.

On Sunday the NASCAR Cup Series races the Pennzoil 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Xfinity series returns next week on Saturday from ISM Raceway with the Phoenix 200.

Kyle Busch Wins Second Consecutive Truck Race, Winning The Stratos 200

Similarly to Kyle Busch’s performance last week in Atlanta, Nevada raised driver performed a full stage sweep on Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Busch kept the lead for most of the race, losing positions due to pit stop only.

The 134 lap race was split into two 30 lap stages and a 74 lap finale. The stages ending caused yellow flags, but besides them, there was only one other flag, which was waved on lap 6 due to Sheldon Creed spinning.

During the race Busch would often pit and take more tires than his competitors, making him lose positions. This was the intentional move though as he would speed through the pack and regain first place shortly after. Busch won the race a second ahead of second place finisher Brett Moffitt.

NASCAR has a triple-header in Vegas this weekend, with the Xfinity race tomorrow and the Monster Energy Cup Series race on Sunday. After three straight weeks of truck racing, the Gander Outdoors Truck Series will now take a short break, not returning until March 23rd at Martinsville Speedway.

Kyle Busch Wins Atlanta Truck Race, Breaks All-Time Record

Kyle Busch broke Ron Hornaday’s record of NASCAR Truck series wins on Saturday after winning the Ultimate Tailgating 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch also won the first two stages of the race, making it a full race sweep, similar to the one in the Xfinity Series earlier in the day.

Despite being billed as “Hotlanta” by many, today the speedway was under misty and foggy conditions. The 130 lap race had two 40 lap stages, with the final stage being 50 laps.

The race had two red flags at the end. The first was to clean up after a crash involving Spencer Boyd, Austin Wayne Self, Chad Finley, Stewart Friesen, Parker Kligerman and Jesse Little. The second one was thrown up after the cars had just started rolling again, this time due to weather. The race was able to get back going with five laps under green. The finale of the race had rookie Harrison Burton and Kyle Busch on the front row.

There were three incident cautions in the race. Two were from Natalie Decker going into grass, and the third was John Hunter Nemechek spinning out.

The Gander Outdoors Truck Series returns next Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Strat 200. Kyle Busch will be racing once again tomorrow in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 for the Monster Energy Cup Series. The broadcast for the race starts at 2 PM Eastern Time.

Denny Hamlin Wins 2019 Daytona 500, Becoming A Repeat Winner

Denny Hamlin won his second Daytona 500 on Sunday under NASCAR Overtime. Hamlin was on the front row during the many restarts during the final stage. Kyle Busch, who won second place in the race, won stage 1, while Ryan Blaney won stage 2.

This was the first race since motorsport team owner JD Gibbs passed away. When asked about the win, Hamlin said that “this one’s for JD. We’re desperately gonna miss him for the rest of our lives but his legacy lives on.”

The front row for the race was William Byron and Alex Bowman. Denny Hamlin started 10th, climbing his way up the grid throughout the race. The race was mostly clean until the final stage which had numerous incidents involving more than 10 cars. The race was red flagged twice.

Jimmie Johnson was put a lap down after an incident where car 51 and 52 collided, making them spin and hit cars who were heading to the pits. Those cars included the aforementioned Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse and Tyler Reddick.

On lap 191 there was a crash involving Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Daniel Hemric, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Ty Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Paul Menard, Tyler Reddick, Matt Tifft, Chris Buescher, David Ragan, Daniel Suarez, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson and Matt DiBenedetto.

The caution with two laps to go happened after Clint Bowyer tried moving up a row but got back in line too early, making the back of his car clip Michael McDowell. They spun and collected many more with them, including William Byron, the pole sitter of the race. Out of the whole grid, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were the only ones who finished the race without being involved in an incident.

NASCAR heads to Atlanta next week for the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500. The race will take place on Sunday at 2PM Eastern Time.

Michael Annett Wins NASCAR Racing Experience 300

Michael Annett won the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 on Saturday, leading the most laps out of anyone in the race. Justin Haley snagged stage 1, and Ross Chastain took stage 2.

The front row at the start of the race was Tyler Reddick and Jeffery Earnhardt, but due to a penalty, Reddick started at the back of the grid, giving Michael Annett the second spot in the front row. Annett stayed up ahead but didn’t find himself in the lead until on a restart with 37 laps left. A large portion of the race happened in a single file on the outside line, similar to the duel races earlier in the week.

In the final lap, Justin Allgaier pushed for second place but was blocked by Micahel Annett. He said afterwards that it was the plan to push on the last lap because of the pace that they were going at.

The race had a low number of cautions, with two besides the cautions after stage one and two. This was a polar opposite to the year before that had five overtimes and a three hour race time in total. Second place finisher Justin Allgaier said “I wish I had a good answer,” about why this year what so different from the previous.

One of the cautions was due to debris from Brad Keselowski’s car, which had its escape roof fly off during the race. He battled with the safety precaution, pitting many times and then eventually retiring from the race.

The race was the in-race debut for the Toyota Supra model. “I couldn’t tell that I was driving a different style of car,” said Brandon Jones, who also complimented the car’s look on the track.

Today is the eve of the Daytona 500, with drivers from the Xfinity race, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott making up part of the grid tomorrow. NASCAR will head to Atlanta next week, with the Xfinity series running the Rinnai 250 on Saturday in a doubleheader with the Gander Outdoors Truck Series holding the Atlanta 200 afterwards.


Austin Hill Wins NextEra Energy Resources 250 In Overtime

Austin Hill won the NextEra Energy Resources 250 after a yellow flag plagued evening at Daytona International Speedway. The win kicks off the season for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, which was known as the Camping World Truck Series the year before. “I knew we had a truck that could compete. Got a little scarce there at the end. (I) Thought that the 98 at the end would get me,” said hill in victory lane. Hill didn’t find himself with much competition by the end of the race as around 10 trucks were still left on the track.

There were numerous incidents that involved more than five drivers, with the biggest two being on lap 54 and 98. The latter of the two pushed the race into NASCAR Overtime, with the race not concluding until second overtime was done. The race had 11 cautions in total. Numerous cars were on fire over the course of the evening. Sheldon Creed and Natalie Decker had to make fast exits of their trucks because of this.

Christian Eckes and David Gilliland started on the front row for the race. Gilliland found himself in the front of the pack for a significant amount of time, eventually dropping back due to a penalty from driving ahead of the pace car when going to pit lane under caution.

Austin Hill was worried at the end that he wouldn’t have enough fuel. “I didn’t have any confidence to be honest with you,” said Hill when reflecting on his emotion during the race about the fuel.

The Gander Outdoors Truck Series will return next week when NASCAR heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has two more days at Daytona International Speedway, with the Powershares QQQ 300 on Saturday and the famous Daytona 500 on Sunday.