George Russell, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Melbourne likely to be a “similar story” to Jeddah for Mercedes – Russell

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In the round-up: Mercedes driver George Russell says he expects to see a similar order to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix during this weekend’s race in Australia

In brief

Russell expects “similar story” to Jeddah in Melbourne

Russell finished fourth in Jeddah after originally being promoted to the podium in third following a post-race penalty to Fernando Alonso that was later cancelled by stewards.

The Mercedes driver finished ahead of the two Ferraris but behind Alonso’s Aston Martin and far behind the two winning Red Bulls. He says he anticipates the order from Jeddah to repeat this weekend in Australia.

“I think it’ll be a similar story in Melbourne,” Russell said. “The tarmac is very similar in Melbourne compared to the circuit here: some fast and flowing corners. So, I’d say the order that we’ve seen this weekend, it’ll be very similar.

“But like we saw in qualifying, there’s only maybe two-tenths splitting three, four or five cars. So, they’ll probably be similar in Melbourne too.”

IndyCar extends NTT title sponsorship

The IndyCar Series has extended its title sponsorship with technology company NTT to a “multi-year” deal to commence in 2024, the championship has announced.

NTT has been the title sponsor of IndyCar since 2019 and will remain so into 2024 and beyond after agreeing an extension with the series.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT DATA because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” said NTT’s CEO Kaz Nishihata. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

Esports champion wins single-seater debut in British F4

The winner of an esports organised by Motorsport UK on the RaceRoom platform will compete in this season’s British F4 championship with JHR Developments.

Deagen Fairclough, a 16-year-old with previous karting and closed-wheel car racing experience, won the ROKiT Racing Star competition in the male division to earn professional training and an opportunity to compete in the british F4 championship.

“I’m over the moon to finally be racing in British F4 with JHR and ROKiT,” said Fairclough.

“I’ve got a lot to learn having never raced a car like this before, as I’ve come from a closed, front wheel drive Fiesta, so progression and consistency will be key. I’m hoping to achieve some good results and look forward to an immense year ahead in this prestigious series.”

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Comment of the day

Does one team dominating impact your viewership of Formula 1? Domination is not the concern for @dbradock…

One team dominating has never been an issue for me.

The sheer volume of races, sprints etc, has – as has the moving of the start time one hour (or more in some cases) as it ruined my ability to watch races live.

I started cherry picking races last season as there were just too many, and found that after years of watching every single race, I wasn’t really bothered by missing a fair few.

When this season started, it was pretty obvious that the chasing pack wasn’t going to catch up so I’ve not even bothered to watch. Saved a bundle on Kayo subscription as well.

As I feared, the introduction of the new regulations and budget cap has led to one team getting things super right and the rest floundering. In pre-budget cap days at least two teams would’ve been throwing obscene amounts of cash at developing new cars to accelerate their competitiveness but these days, if they got it wrong, they’ve essentially relegated themselves to another season of poor performance rather than bringing a huge (sometimes complete B spec) upgrade during the season.

I’m not advocating that the budget cap be removed, just pointing out that this was always going to be a consequence of having it if teams get things wrong and a heap of teams did.

For now, I’m OK with not watching/attending. With the obscene prices for attendance these days, it’s unlikely I’ll attend in the future, but I might start watching (some but definitely not all 23 or so) again in a season or two when other teams get their collective acts together.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Casanova, Lazerfx, Macca, The Genuine Jim and Marc Ferring!

On this day in motorsport

  • 30 years ago today Ayrton Senna won his home race at Interlagos for the final time after a mid-race downpour, taking the championship lead

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  • 14 comments on “Melbourne likely to be a “similar story” to Jeddah for Mercedes – Russell”

    1. I also expect a similar story for the competitive order in Melbourne & from there onwards, with perhaps minor variations further down the field depending on circumstances, circuit characteristics, etc.

      A mere clothing line confusable with another franchise?
      People always try to come up with excuses as arguments favoring their cases.

    2. Maybe I’m just naive but I still have same feeling as in Bahrain. Not totally sure who is on the top. Maybe it was because of last season as the pace difference between midfield teams changed so much it was unpredictable what was going to happen.

    3. So the male Racing Star winner gets a F4 drive. What about the female winner?

      1. If its segregated by gender then fair comment, but if its open to male and female then there is only one winner.

    4. The Prediction Champioship is still yet to be updated since the beginning of the season more than 3 weeks ago. It would be great to have a regularly updated classification in order to improve the interest and engagement. Thank you.

      1. @diezcilindros I haven’t even got to make predictions because the relevant article never appeared before either qualifying thus far.

    5. I feel in general team Mercedes and their team members sound very downbeat this year: Hamilton complaining that the team did not listen to him, Wolff saying Red Bull cannot be caught and so on. I think they are just being realistic, but it feels like they are throwing the towel already.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        28th March 2023, 13:35

        @matthijs. Well, has anyone caught up with Red Bull during a season and gotten ahead of them? I think the only time to catch up to them is during the car’s development but Mercedes has no choice but to plow forward so they can at least fight Aston Martin for and maybe get in the mix at some Grand Prix where Red Bull screws up.

        1. @freelittlebirds That sounds like throwing the towel. I agree that Red Bull is very much ahead, but it happens very often that the pecking order is different at the end of the year than at the beginning. Like last year for instance. There is only a slim chance that Red Bull will not seal both championships, but it is not unrealistic that they are caught by one or more teams on speed and results at the end of the year.

      2. Please explain the difference between “being realistic” and “throwing in the towel”….?

        1. They are two very different concepts.

          “Being realistic” is accepting the reality of a situation and making the best of it.

          “Throwing in the towel” is a boxing phrase denoting giving up a fight before it is finished.

          Now, it is possible to do both. If there is little-to-no chance of winning, you can be realistic, accept that, and give up the fight. In boxing, this would likely leave you with a shorter recovery time and more able to train and fight again sooner.

          In Mercedes’ case right now, being realistic and accepting that they are not going to reach the podium, let alone the top step, on merit this year could allow them to “throw in the towel” now and start work on next year’s car early. This could lead to development being seen this year, but by focussing purely on next year and using this year as just a testing ground, efforts are focussed where they need to be.

    6. If you removed Red Bull from the grid you would have 3 teams very close at the top and a midfield group that can occasionally mix up the grid a little too at the top. This is no different to the vast majority of the years Mercedes dominated. It’s frustrating we’ll not really have much fight for the title and most races will be a cake walk for RB but there are some good fights still to see further down the grid.

      The budget cap is a good thing for the sport but it was implemented a year too late which gave Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari a chance to lock in a spending advantage through research into the current rules. The next time the rules change then in theory no team will have that chance again and it’ll be down to how well money was spent rather than how much. At least that’s my hope for the future.

      It’s easy to lambast the FIA as they so frequently shoot themselves in the foot but I think the sport will be in a better competitive place in 3 years time. Who knows, maybe cars will be close enough that they’ll remove DRS….

      1. but there are some good fights still to see further down the grid

        I agree. Wholeheartedly. Much better than the previous many seasons. Besides, I don’t recall the last time there was not a dominant car. I suspect people complaining about a dominant car currently, mostly are people who wish it was still Mercedes. Personally, I could care less if it is one or the other. Well, that’s not quite true, in fact I prefer it not to be a team with British drivers, as it seems to make the coverage of the races much wider. All the staff of the broadcaster seem to be British, which appear to cause almost all airtime to involve the British drivers when they dominate. Now we get to see some coverage of all the teams – very nice.

      2. This is no different to the vast majority of the years Mercedes dominated

        Agreed to a point, although at least when Merc was most dominant we saw a fight between their two drivers. This year is going to be the Max and Horner show, which I couldn’t be any less enthusiastic about. That said, behind RBR it looks very competitive up and down the field which should be fun to watch.

        I think the sport will be in a better competitive place in 3 years time

        I think that with the new regulations coming in you could be right.

        maybe cars will be close enough that they’ll remove DRS

        Getting rid of DRS doesn’t need the cars to be close, it needs them to be able to follow closely given similar performance. The cars are almost there now, and are close enough that it would be viable to massively curtail DRS use: Reduce the number and/or length of the zones, and/or the activation interval. Instead, they are increasing the number and length of the zones in many cases, and rarely (if ever) reducing them. I doubt we will see the end of DRS in its current form for a very long time…

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