Happy ending after weekend of huge crashes

Weekend racing wrap

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It was a weekend of major crashes in several series but qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 did not see a repeat of last year’s flips. Sunday’s decisive session for the 100th running of the race saw pole position won with the final lap of the day.

Stoppages in the European Formula Three championship and World Rally Championship told a tale of serious incidents in both, while a near-waterlogged Spa also produced its share of action.

And the Formula E championship moved into a decisive phase after a team orders row during Saturday’s race in Berlin. Here’s the pick of last weekend’s action.


Round 6 of 16 (Qualifying): Indy 500

Newgarden qualified second for the Indy 500
Twelve months after a violent crash at Indianapolis which pierced a femoral artery and almost cost him his life, James Hinchcliffe returned to the speedway to claim an emotional pole position for Sunday’s 100th running of the Indy 500.

The Schmidt driver, who only returned to full-time racing at the beginning of this season, headed both days of qualifying on Saturday (video above) and again on Sunday. Hinchcliffe has started from second place eight times in IndyCar but on Sunday will lead the field for the first time in his career.

The drama began on Saturday when Max Chilton and Pippa Mann hit the wall, the latter due to a rear wing flap failure. Last year’s winner Juan Pablo Montoya missed out on a place in the ‘fast nine’ shoot-out for pole position and had to make a second attempt at qualifying after a bin bag wrapped itself around his front wing.

Josef Newgardewn held pole position until being demoted by Hinchcliffe and will start from the middle of the three-car front row joined by 2014 race-winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

European F3

Round 4 (Races 10-12 of 33): Red Bull Ring

Li suffered leg injuries in a gigantic crash
Callum Ilott won a shortened opening race at the Red Bull Ring following a savage three-car crash which left two drivers in hospital.

Ryan Tveter span through the gravel trap at turn six, coming to a stop on the apex with a cloud of dust behind him. He was hit by an unsighted Zhi Cong Li whose car was launched into the air and also by Pedro Piquet, who dealt Tveter’s car a glancing blow.

Li, who briefly lost consciousness following the impact, was taken to hospital and is sue to receive surgery on multiple heel fractures. He also fractured several vertebrae which do not require surgery. Tveter, Li’s Carlin team mate, was discharged from hospital with a badly bruised knee.

The remaining two races saw comfortable wins for Lance Stroll. He opened out a 38-point championship lead over Ilott, who was demoted from second to fourth in race two due to a track limits penalty – a theme of the weekend for many drivers.

George Russell was promoted to second ahead of Niko Kari. The Safety Car made a brief appearance on the second lap when Ralf Aron’s front wing got stuck under his car following a spin and scattered debris across the track.

Maximilian Gunther held on to third in the championship after passing Kari to join Stroll and Ilott on the podium in the final race.

World Rally Championship

Round 5 of 14: Portugal

Kris Meeke made a triumphant return to the World Rally Championship after a two-round absence. The Citroen driver, who ran strongly in the first two rounds before hitting trouble, led from stage two and built up a strong lead early on to ensure he’d collect his second win.

However stage five was overshadowed by a catastrophic crash for the winner of the previous round, Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon. Despite running second on the road Paddon was keeping pace with Sebastien Ogier until a minor mistake led to the complete destruction of his car. The i20’s hot exhaust ignited the bushes he had stopped in, forcing both Paddon and co-driver John Kennard to abandon the cockpit.

Ott Tanak crashed in the same place, but quick thinking and work from him and spectators meant he managed to pull his car clear of the ever growing fire, though damage still ruled him out of the rest of the rally.

Various other drivers encountered problems during the rally, but Meeke held on to win. Andreas Mikkelsen overcame team mate Ogier by mere seconds on the final day, aided by a puncture for the world champion on Sunday’s opening stage.

Formula E

Round 8 of 10: Berlin


Buemi took a crucial win
Sebastien Buemi won the Berlin ePrix to cut the gap to Lucas di Grassi to a single point with two races remaining. Buemi’s cause was aided by di Grassi’s team mate Daniel Abt who ignored calls from the Abt team to let Di Grassi by.

Di Grassi had moved up from eighth on the grid, passing Jean-Eric Vergne and Nico Prost on his way, while Sam Bird was effectively taken out of the running when he was called in for a loose front wing end section. Di Grassi jumped Prost after saving his energy enough to run an extra lap, but Buemi was comfortably ahead of Abt in second.

With only the double header in London left, di Grassi and Buemi are the two remaining drivers realistically in with a shout of the title, though Bird is mathematically still in touch, 59 points behind with a maximum of 60 remaining.

Formula V8 3.5

Round 3 (Races 5-6 of 18): Spa-Francorchamps

With Mathieu Vaxiviere demoted from pole position to last due to a technical infringement, and Matevos Issakyan suffering a sizeable crash at Raidillon on his reconnaissance lap, race one did not start well for SMP Racing. But the team bounced back to claim their first Formula V8 3.5 victory the following day.

Egor Orudzhev scored his first win of the season in race one despite a destroyed front=right tyre which he had locked repeatedly while fending off Tom Dillmann. Orudzhev trimmed his wing out as if he was running at Indianapolis and was un-passable on the straights and was repeatedly able to retake the lead from Dillmann.

By the final lap Orudzhev had half-a-dozen cars queued up behind him, including Johnny Cecotto Jnr and Pietro Fittipaldi who tangled at Fagnes. Louis Deletraz, who briefly passed Dillmann but succumbed to a brilliant re-pass, was third.

Saturday’s Spa sunshine was replaced by near-torrential rain on Sunday. The cars trundled off behind the Safety Car but just as it seemed too wet to go ahead race control threw the green flag.

The result was a predictably chaotic race. Isaakyan spun to a halt at Les Combes and Cecotto mounted his car on top of Roy Nissany’s at Eau Rouge. Following a Safety Car period Dillmann inherited the lead but spun it away, allowing Vaxiviere to win. But six podiums from as many races leaves Dillmann with a healthy 37-point lead.


Round 2 (Races 3-4 of 18): Red Bull Ring

Glock, point-less in Hockenheim, won in Austria
BMW dominated the opening race of the weekend with five of their cars in the top six as 2014 champion Marco Wittmann took the win from pole ahead of Tom Blomqvist in positions that were settled in the first corner. Edoardo Mortara was the only Audi in the top six, taking the final spot on the podium. Mattias Ekstrom was spun out early on by Maxime Martin and only finished 16th while Mercedes drivers Christian Vietoris and Daniel Juncadella replicated Hamilton and Rosberg by taking one another out.

Meanwhile race two was won by former F1 driver Timo Glock, who overtook Jamie Green on the second lap and held the lead until the end. Green lost a further place later on the Ekstrom – who’d come from eleventh on the grid – but still completed the podium. After the race an unhappy Antonio Felix da Costa accused Audi, who engineered a deliberate crash in this race last year, of taking him out.

International V8 Supercars

Round 5 (Races 10-11 of 33): Benalla

Tim Slade took his first win in Supercars at Winton – then immediately followed it with a second. The Holden drier led from pole ahead of Scott McLaughlin and Mark Winterbottom to take the win in race one. McLaughlin and Winterbottom fought hard for the minor podium placings while further back James Courtney was involved in incidents with Lee Holdsworth and Cameron Waters, leading him to be investigated by the stewards and finishing in 19th.

In race two, Slade again beat Winterbottom, with Fabian Coulthard taking third. Having started fourth, Slade came out of his pitstop with a commanding lead which he never relinquished once he got it. Shane Van Gisbergen and Waters completed the top five, while Courtney again had a troubled day – contact with pole-sitter Chaz Mostert meant he lost 13 laps to repairs and finished 25th and last.

Guest series: Euroformula Open

Leonardo Pulcini and Jack Aitken shared the wins again, each passing the other to win in the two races at Spa-Francorchamps. Euroformula Open’s stand-out pair have monopolised the top two finishing positions for the last three races.

A terrifying back flip for Nikita Zlobin at Raidillon brought the Safety Car out in race one. The incident was caught on camera by a fan at the track (below). Igor Walitko almost suffered the same fate in race two but remarkably continued to score points for ninth.


Over to you

What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Next weekend there are two famous races; Formula One and GP2 head to Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix while the 100th running of the Indy 500 takes places at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Elsewhere there’s Super Formula, World RallyCross, NASCAR and World Touring Cars.

Thanks to Robert Mathershaw (@Mathers) for contributing to this article.

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22 comments on “Happy ending after weekend of huge crashes”

  1. I can’t believe you left out MotoGP!

    This weekends race was again one that made me jump off my seat at the end. This race had everything, culminating with an incredible battle for the lead at the end of the race.

    MotoGP has surpassed F1 on my list of sports to watch as more often than not you get a race like there was yesterday in MotoGP, whereas F1 can’t come close to delivering something like that.

    If you can catch a replay make a point of doing so, you won’t be disappointed.

    1. I can’t believe you left out Moto GP!

      Yes you can because none of their other races this year were in Weekend Racing Wrap. To the best of my recollection nor were they last year, with one exception. Obviously there’s no way we could include every racing championship in this and bikes have never been a regular part of F1 Fanatic’s coverage. So I can’t believe that you can’t believe Moto GP was left out.

      1. @velocityboy @keithcollantine – This is completely my fault! I have been including MotoGP this year in the “Also this weekend” section, because a lot of people wanted it but there were no videos. It just completed slipped my mind while doing the write-up, sorry!

        1. @bradley13

          there were no videos

          There are but they’re paywalled so there’s no point in including them (my reply was about the absence of video of the Moto GP race).

          1. @keithcollantine – I know, I meant no videos that we can include. I was just mentioning that I do normally put a write-up in there about it at least but forgot. Shame really, it was actually quite a good race!

      2. Moto GP definately deserves coverage here

  2. ColdFly F1 (@)
    23rd May 2016, 15:45

    I watched a bit of the Indy 500 quali.
    Absolutely hated it. This was even worse than this year’s final minutes of Melbourne/China F1 quali. You see a car going full throttle, with constant RPM, and drivers steering more on the straights than in the turns. The only action is some gear shifts between 5th and 6th, but even that you dont notice as the ratios are so close, and no change in throttle/RPM.
    It’s almost that you hope for an accident so you don’t fall asleep (luckily though I did fall asleep and the only incident I saw was a plastic bag impeding Montoya’s quali.)

    1. Max Chilton crashed out, as did Pippa Mann, but neither were seriously injured. Pippa Mann did a nice job of minimizing the damage to her car.

      Indy 500 qualifying is indeed boring (for the viewers), but they’re entering turn 1 at, or slightly under, 240 mph, and the times are averaged across 4 laps– You’ve absolutely got to put in a perfect lap 4 times in a row, running a car with low downforce, and flat out.

      Some of the cars were actually running mixed aero– qualifying parts on one side of the car, race parts on the others, since the cars are always turning left.

      Kudos to Andretti for putting in a good time without 5th gear, for Newgarden for oh-so-nearly getting his first pole, and for Hinchcliffe to be able to keep it wide open going into the corner that tried really hard to kill him last year.

      I’m not really a fan of oval racing, but I respect the skill required for it.

    2. @coldfly It is a little slow but the images of the cars whizzing past are on their own quite sensational.

  3. Slightly off topic, but how can you watch the Indy 500 in the UK if you don’t have BT Sport? Don’t Indycar stream the races on their website?

    1. @geemac

      how can you watch the Indy 500 in the UK if you don’t have BT Sport?

      By getting BT Sport and by doing so helping to subsidise my fee :-)

      IndyCar un-geolocks its practice feed (I’m watching Indy 500 practice as I write this) but the races are locked because BT Sport own the rights and I’m pretty sure it’s the same for qualifying too.

      1. Thanks @keithcollantine, it proved impossible to convince my wife we needed Sky so I doubt I’ll win an argument for a BT Sport subscription!

  4. Omg, that euro F3 crash! Gotta say today’s racing cars are unbelievably safe compared to past eras.

    Indy looks like a fun series, but gad are those cars not fun to look at, eesh.

    1. @maciek I agree that the Indy cars are ugly. What I find surprising is the Indy Lights cars have the old design with open wheels and yet this is the feeder series where drivers are more likely to make mistakes and contact. I’d think that if covering the wheels was done for safeties sake they would have done the feeder series too.

    2. That thing was frightening as hell! No wonder Zhi Cong Li had to stay in the hospital, but that was a situation where two lives were saved because of modern technology. Wish him a speedy recovery.

  5. Thanks @bradley13 , Love these Weekend racing wrap posts especially when F1 is on break.

    1. @xusen – You’re most welcome! Thanks should also go to @keithcollantine – for giving me the chance to do this article – and @mathers – for helping me with it! – however. :)

  6. Absolutely could not be happier with the result of the Indy 500 qualifying. It was a very complicated format but once you got your head around it, it was pretty cool to watch drivers getting as close as they dared to the wall, the downforce configurations and how much they lifted into the corners.

    A shame about the big offs though in the various series. Those sausage kerbs at Radillon provided an unnecessary danger.

  7. It was so shocking that Aleshin would beat the gun to qualify bumping Alexander Rossi out of the Fast 9. But Rossi was fast enough in practice to start 11th and was the only rookie in the top 20. I cannot believe what Manor F1 are missing. He may get back on the F1 grid in 2017.

  8. That Euro F3 crash was absolutely unnecessary, why would you drive into a cloud of dust in full speed when you can’t see what’s behind it?
    Such a stupid move, but I’m glad they’re all relatively OK.

    1. @watertank It’s not stupid. It’s a racer’s instinct. How many times in other races in other series that the driver ahead ran a bit wide and kick up a cloud of dust. Also, most of the times, those that ran of the track seldom spins back onto the race track

  9. It was indeed a dirty move on Antonio Felix da Costa. Okay, he braked earlier despite turning into the corner on a bigger radius but the car behind wasn’t even remotely alongside. It just bumped him off the track – but not in NASCAR-style (bumping is not as commonplace with the heavily aero-dependent DTM touring cars anyway, I imagine) to move him out of the way and demote him one place, but into the gravel trap. I’m very pro-attacking driver usually, but even I say ths move by Ekstrom was not on.

    P. S.: I’ve always said those Eau Rouge (Raidillion, actually) speed bumps will lead to huge accidents one day… (……..)

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