Friday, 22 March 2019

Paul Tracy's Benetton Test, September 1994 - by Ibrar Malik

Many believe Schumacher ran illegal driver aids during 1994 because one of Benetton's former drivers, Jos Verstappen, once claimed so during an interview in 2011. This along with all the other arguments are analysed extensively in the book however, what is not commonly appreciated is five other drivers stepped inside the B194 that year also. Michael Schumacher, JJ Lehto, Johnny Herbert and Allan McNish all drove the 1994 Benetton and their views on it will become clear either in the book or in upcoming blogs. However it is often forgotten that rising IndyCar star, Paul Tracy, also tested the car. So what were his thoughts?

Paul Tracy in the Penske. Although the cars looked similar, IndyCar drivers have not always adapted to F1. Most notably Michael Andretti in 1993.

Bernie Ecclestone organised the Paul Tracy/Benetton test because IndyCar racing was growing in popularity at the time and becoming a serious rival for F1. Nigel Mansell, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi all raced in the US series and even Ayrton Senna investigated a move Stateside at the end of 1992. It is believed that Ecclestone wanted to steal IndyCar stars (like Paul Tracy) to weaken the American series but also to widen grand prix racing's appeal. F1's commercial supremo had been instrumental in moving the 1991 and 1995 IndyCar champions (Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve) across the pond during the mid-1990s.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

New Motorsport Week article: Albon - the case for F1's forgotten rookie

Photo: Octane Photography
You'll have seen by now the various George Russell/Lando Norris F1 season preview articles. Often talking of the two as synonymous. And it's little wonder. Rookies will commonly get attention prior to the season start, particularly if they have plenty of promise based on the junior formulae and even more particularly if they're British.

But there's a third rookie who (sort of) meets these criteria. And yet he's got nothing like the focus, instead appears to have an odd man out status. Yet he just might be best of the lot. I'm talking about Alexander Albon, making his bow this season with Toro Rosso.

In my latest for Motorsport Week I state his case. You can have a read here: https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/21933

Friday, 1 March 2019

New Motorsport Week article: Why Sebastian Vettel at last has Red Bull at Ferrari

Photo: Octane Photography
Sebastian Vettel is about to embark on another season at Ferrari; his fifth. And his first title there yet eludes him, having won four of the things at Red Bull.

It's all given rise to theorising about what Vettel needs around him to perform, but perhaps on the basis of pre-season testing things are coming together for Vettel at Ferrari at last. As perhaps Vettel now has at Ferrari a lot of what he once had at Red Bull. And not just that his car looks like a very good one.

In my latest feature article for Motorsport Week I outline my thinking. You can have a read here: https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/21762