Mercedes clock over 150 laps in day 1 of testing

Hamilton and Bottas hit the track today for the first day of testing in Barcelona. The Mercedes W08 EQ Power+ emerged with the t-wing as launched at Silverstone last week.

Mercedes new signing Valterri Bottas was out first on mediums before moving over to softs later on, putting in over a race distance of 79 laps and a lap time of 1m 23.169, putting him just below Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel’s time of 1m 22.791.

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Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff and Valterri Bottas with the W08 at the Silverstone launch.



Next up was Lewis Hamilton initially out on mediums before moving over to softs. This time the W08 now sporting a shark fin, although smaller than those seen on the other F1 teams cars launched last week, as Mercedes test a number of aero options. Hamilton finally finished the afternoon session by chalking up 73 laps and a lead time of 1m 21.765.

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The raised T-wing

Of the W08,  team boss Toto Wolff commented:

“The new rules for 2017 were designed to make the fastest F1 cars ever through a big increase in aerodynamic performance. They should be more physical to drive and hopefully more spectacular for the fans to watch. The proof will come in the opening races but we have probably achieved that target.

But the dominant feeling in the team right now is one of excitement – the factory is buzzing with anticipation. It has been a really motivating challenge to develop a brand new car concept and I have never seen our determination to succeed higher than it is right now.”

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Toto Wolff speaking at the W08 Power+ launch


The W08 was built almost completely from the ground up with just 17% of components carried over from previous cars.  Powered by the new Mercedes-AMG F1 M08 EQ Power+, the engine is a fraction heavier than previous power units to deal with the heavier loads and is also designed to be harder wearing.

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Testing continues until March 10th ahead of the season launch in Australia on March 26th.


Allison Remzi            All Images ©Paul Foster at


Sahara Force India 2017 car launch

Launched yesterday at Silverstone was the new Force India  VJM10.  The car features the new front and rear wings and a shark fin, with silver as the dominant colour.

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Speaking ahead of the unveiling,  team boss Vijay Mallya said “Many commentators of the sport have said that we punch well above our weight. It speaks volumes for the passion, creativity and talent of my team and everyone at the factory. This passion is only going to get more intense. The passion to improve further is going to be pretty relevant in 2017.”

Vijay Mallya speaking at yesterdays launch

“If we did not dream big, we would not have finished 4th in the World Championship last year. We have never even had conversations in private that we cannot break into top three. That is our objective, and we are going to give it our best shot.”

Commenting on an article that stated poorer teams such as Force India would suffer in the arms race Mallya commented  “Its not the amount of arms you have but the quality of your weaponry”  

Unveiling the VJM10 were drivers Sergio Perez and new team mate Esteban Ocon. Perez is now in his 4th season with Sahara Force India and finished 7th overall last season. Ocon who completed 9 races last year at Manor signed with Force India in November and is part of the Mercedes-Benz driver development programme.

Sergio Perez

Mallya praised Perez saying he was “a true racer, fearless, who loved to race” and on Ocon “Very, very talented. Ocon impressed us, he has limited experience in Formula 1 but he’s willing to learn”.

Esteban Ocon


The new regulations for 2017 mean the cars have wider wings, bodies and larger tyres. Both Ocon and Perez spoke about how the increase in speed would mean that driving them would be more physically demanding.


Allison Remzi                All images © Andy Fitzpatrick

BTCC shakedowns underway ahead of March season launch.

This week saw BTCC testing kick off with a host of teams out on track for the first time in 2017.  At Donington in the Mercedes A Class were Wix Racing supported Ciceley Racing’s Adam Morgan and Laser Tools Racing’s  Aiden Moffat.  Despite the cold weather the duo had a good test day with no significant problems.


2017 is Adam Morgan’s 5th season in the British Touring Car Championship. The former Ginetta GT Supercup champion has been racing with the Ciceley squad since 2013, finishing 9th overall last season.


The team have the distinction of bringing Mercedes back to the BTCC for the first time since the 1980’s.

Aiden Moffat who debuted in BTCC in 2013 at 16 was the youngest driver to do so.  The Scot finished 14th last season and took his second BTCC podium place in the final round at Brands Hatch. Moffat recently competed in the 24H Dubai endurance race, SP3 class with Century Motorsport, finishing in P2 in a Ginetta G55.


Rob Austin for Handy Motorsports tucked away the laps at Oulton Park in his Toyota Avensis as did Jack Goff in the Eurotech Racing Honda Civic R on Tuesday.  Goff announced his move to the squad from WSR last month.  Eurotech Team Principal Jeff Smith stated at the time that they had a comprehensive pre-season testing programme in place, and as they hit the track at Snetterton on Wednesday, the preparations for Goff adjusting to a front-wheel drive again, look to be more than falling into place.

Following this week’s announcement that he would be returning to WSR, Colin Turkington was out at Brands Hatch behind the wheel of his new BMW 125i M Sport. Two time champion Turkington who has spent 9 of his 12 seasons with WSR then moves onto a week of testing in Spain.

Colin Turkington

The introduction of the new bigger Dunlop Sport Maxx BTCC tyre range for drivers to adjust to doesn’t appear to have presented any issues. With improved steering response, braking stability and expected increase in performance, the new tyres were getting a positive reaction throughout the tests.





Allison Remzi                                          All images ©Andy Fitzpatrick




Formula Ford 50th Anniversary

  Celebrating  its 50th anniversary this year is Formula Ford. Often seen as the entry level formula and a springboard for many talented drivers, it continues to thrive and attract the stars of the future. The celebrations launched at this years Autosport Live with an exhibition of prominent Formula Fords by HSCC.  Other celebrations include a display at Race Retro at Stoneleigh park later this month, Classic and Historic Formula Ford races at the 50th Celebration Ford Sport Meeting at Mallory Park on April 30th and the HSCC’s  Brands Hatch Grand Prix meeting in July will be of special significance as the place where Formula Ford began.


Originally conceived as a cost effective, competitive way into racing and an ideal car for the racing school, the first chassis were based on the obsolete Lotus 31, then developed as the Lotus 51.  With a Cortina GT engine and the backing of Ford, the new series launched in 1967. The following year the Lotus was joined on the grid by other manufacturers such as Brabham, Crosslé Car Company and Elden Racing Cars.


The 1967 rules stated the cars should be open single seaters such as those in Formula 1, 2 and 3, of tubular construction with no stress-bearing panels except bulkheads and undertray, rear wheel drive only and a minimum weight of 400kg. The rules also stated the cost  was not to exceed £1,000 retail. Over time with development of the Cortina 1600cc engine, expenses rose and the rules on maximum cost were relaxed.

The popularity of Formula Ford very quickly spread and the first race in the United States took place in 1969. Today the series is competed in across the globe from South Africa to Australia.

As the cars developed drivers of the older marques in Formula Ford 1600  became dissatisfied with competing with the newer models so in 1979 a pre 1974 Championship was launched, the Classic Formula Ford.  Today the Series runs two classes: Class A for Formula Ford 1600 cars built and raced between 1974 and 1981 and Class B  for Formula Ford 1600 cars built and raced before 1974.

The BRSCC Formula Ford 1600 series runs five classes: Class A Cars built from 1.1.99,  Class B Cars built from 1.1.90 to 31.12.98,  Class C Cars built from 1.1.87 to 31.12.89, Class D Cars built from 1.1.84 to 31.12.86  and Class E Cars built before 1984.

In 2012 the 1.6 litre DI turbocharged EcoBoost engine was introduced to the series and in 2013 further changes included the engine being developed to produce 200bhp, the use of slicks and the addition of front and rear wings to allow some downforce.  In 2015 the new MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost series was launched, now named the F4 British Championship , the only MSA UK championship run to the FIA’s F4 regulations. The series is also the only single-seater series open to 15 yr olds.

Mygale, who have been producing Formula Ford Chassis since 1989 supplied the new series with carbon-
fibre monocoque chassis. Chassis in Formula Ford 1600 remain of tubular steel construction and monocoque chassis are prohibited.  Other manufacturers producing Formula Ford over the last 50 years have included Ray, Swift Cooper, Merlyn and the ever popular Van Diemen.

Established in 1973 by Ralph b45g0452Firman Snr and Ross Ambrose, Van Diemen has a distinguished pedigree in Formula Ford with many constructor championship wins to the name and a driver roster that reads like a Who’s Who of motorsport, prominent names include  Jonathan Palmer, Tommy Byrne, Ayrton Senna, Eddie Irvine, Mark Webber, Jason Plato, Rob Collard and the Van Diemen founders sons, Ralph Firman Jnr and Marcos Ambrose. Van Diemen was bought by  Élan Motorsport Technologies in 2002, the last Van Diemen Formula Ford being designed in 2008. In 2010 the constructor was fully incorporated with Élan and the name Van Diemen disappeared entirely from all new cars.

Van Diemen wasn’t the only Formula Ford constructor to have future racing stars at the wheel, the likes of Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Nigel Mansell,  Mika Hakkinen, James Hunt, Emerson Fittipaldi and Danica Patrick to name but a few all graduated from Formula Ford.B45G8965

The close passes and individual personalities of the various chassis leading to varied performance at different circuits all adds to the enduring popularity of Formula Ford for drivers and spectators alike.  With the advances in technology appealing to younger drivers eager to make their way toward Formula 1 and the older marques beloved by both younger and older drivers, Formula Ford looks set to remain in the motorsports calendar for many years to come.

Allison Remzi                                      All Images ©Andy Fitzpatrick