Zhou Guanyu, Sauber, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

“Sixth-best” Sauber target better qualifying for points chance in Jeddah

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Sauber believe they have a chance of scoring points this weekend after finishing best-of-the-rest in Bahrain.

In brief

Qualifying key to Sauber points chance

Sauber team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi drew encouragement from the team’s performance in Bahrain where Zhou Guanyu rose from 17th on the grid to finish 11th.

“We saw what we can deliver in race conditions, having been convincingly the sixth-best team in the race in Bahrain, and we think we can make one further step this weekend,” he said. “We know where we need to improve, both in terms of car and in terms of execution.

“Our single-lap performance has to be better, as positions higher up the grid would allow us to be in the thick of the battle for the final points-paying positions right from the start of the race, and we need to keep working to refine the set-up of the car to extract its full potential.”

Saudi Arabian GP stewards confirmed

The four stewards for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix are FIA stewards Nish Shetty and Matteo Perini, ex-F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi and national steward Hassan Alabdali. Shetty and Alabdali officiated the same race last year, during which FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is alleged to have pushed for Fernando Alonso’s post-race penalty to be overturned.

Las Vegas tickets available next week

Tickets for this year’s Las Vegas Grand Prix will go on sale to the general public on March 25th. Advance sales to American Express card members will begin 12 days earlier and locals will be able to buy tickets from the 22nd.

New seating options will be offered this year including more than 7,000 general admission tickets. These will be priced at $600 for a three-day ticket, or $125, $225 and $350 respectively for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All prices exclude taxes and fees.

Car site pulls F1 essay

Why did Road and Track earlier this month publish, then delete from its website, a 5,700-word behind-the-scenes account of Saturday at last year’s United States Grand Prix? Kate Wagner wrote the piece after taking up an offer to attend the race as a guest of Mercedes F1 team sponsor and part-owner Ineos.

The piece, published under the title ‘Behind F1’s Velvet Curtain’, was described as a “skewering” of F1 by The Washington Post. Road and Track’s editor-in-chief Daniel Pund told Defector, “the story was taken down because I felt it was the wrong story for our publication,” and denied they been put under pressure to remove it. “No one from the brands or organisations mentioned in the story put any sort of pressure on me or anyone else.”

An archived copy of the article can be read here.

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Comment of the day

The Qiddiya F1 track may be running behind schedule but progress is being made reckons @GeeMac:

I assure you that the Qiddiya site is well under construction. The father of one of my son’s friends in school accepted an offer to move to KSA from the UAE just before Christmas and he’s shown me pictures of the work going on at the site… it’s absolutely colossal.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Bac!

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on ““Sixth-best” Sauber target better qualifying for points chance in Jeddah”

  1. Read the first paragraph of Kate Wagner’s piece. It’s also an unwitting skewering of Kate Wagner.

    1. I can see why they pulled it, fancy a journalist writing what they saw and experienced rather than pandering to the sponsor who paid for their experience.

      A great read.

      1. Yeah, I agree. I am happy i read it, if seems more real and honest than most sports writing.

      2. +1
        Possibly the most accurate description of F1 I’ve ever read from a journalist.
        It’s perfectly clear that this particular journalist doesn’t make their living from F1, and also isn’t fooled – willingly or otherwise – by some rose-coloured image of it in their own mind.

    2. It’s one of the most interesting pieces of F1 journalism I have read.

    3. Kate wagners piece was excellent and balanced from her point of view.

      It deserves the increased attention for being censored becuase it is unfettered by corporate expectation.

      Ironic. If they had left it up id never have read or enjoyed it so much.

      1. I read it a few days ago and thought it was the best take on the current state of F1 that I had read in ages. Of course it was pulled, because it hit a little too close to home for Road and Track’s current audience. R & T has really gone downhill.

    4. Not sure what you’re on about – she’s as self deprecating as it gets and pointing out that the paddock often looks and acts like an episode of Succession isn’t a crime yet.
      A great read by @mcmansionhell – she clearly loves motorsport.

      1. I don’t know why An Sionnach thinks that, but to me the article embodies the thing I dislike about most journalists: the enormous extent to which envy shapes their world view and writings.

        The article oozes with an obsession about what she does not have and others do, and the glamour and fakery. She claims to care about class, but her false narrative about Lewis and Max betrays her. Max is obviously from a lower class than Lewis and her claims that Lewis comes from the humblest of beginnings is just false as drivers like Alonso and Ocon are from substantially more humble backgrounds than the son of an IT manager.

        Her dismissal of Max as someone without a story despite him actually being a real lower class upstart, albeit in large part thanks to having an upstart father (which does not magically make that father a higher class person, because that’s not how it works), disproves that the politics she claims to have, are her real politics. It is the same disconnect that George Orwell described in the The Road to Wigan Pier; those that actually love and respect the lower class versus those that just have envy and hatred for the upper classes. For the latter group, the true upstarts that ascend, often less in manners and culture, than in wealth, are villains that go against the desired reality. One in which people with the right manners and opinions are granted wealth and status, not those with talent, hard work and luck.

        This group may call themselves socialists and they may claim to care for the poor, but they actually constantly disparage lower class culture and show little to no respect for the sacrifices that they have to make. Any chance they get, they latch on to upper middle class champions, like Lewis, while adopting policies and stances that tend to hurt the lower classes.

        Now to be fair to the writer, the article also contains moments where she can move past her envy, like when she admires the cars for their excellence, or wishes for Lewis to just get a nice rest, rather than have his star power being used by the powerful people behind the scenes for their ends, whether it be to get rich people to part with their money or for journalists to write nice stories.

        These are the moments in the article I liked and the times that I liked her as a person. But not so much the rest.

        1. Well put. I’ve explained myself in more detail below. I didn’t go into as much detail on her false dichotomies as you have. I would suggest that the flavour writing is a smokescreen to make her seem like a reasonable person. It’s the sugar that helps the socialist medicine go down.

          As you have said, the discussion here is not a binary one. It’s not that you have to be for “injustice” or against it. It’s that even those who are concerned about injustice can be manipulated by ideologues.

          I read a great piece on totalitarianism in an airport magazine (yes, really!) in Charles de Gaulle last year. To my surprise, it was not a one-sided piece, but one that spent a lot of time discussing communism as well as other forms of totalitarianism. It quoted a French “intellectual” and proponent of communism who eventually realised the error of his ways. What he came to realise was that when you think your ideology justifies doing anything to anyone you have lost your humanity. That’s a good measure of how lost you might be. There’s no talk of lining the F1 paddock up against the wall in the Wagner article, but the writer’s invective is brimming with envy. It is mentioned that the people who interacted with her were polite. She condemns them anyway for their perceived sins. The article on totalitarianism goes on to talk about totalitarianism during the pandemic and looks to the future, asking if totalitarianism is justified when it comes to the environment. As I’ve said, I care about the environment, but the answer to this question should be a resounding no. It was interesting to see an article unbounded by ideology in a glossy magazine. In my country, Ireland, there is essentially no genuinely inquisitive journalism and everything in print is bounded by a slavish, unthinking ideology. The irony is many boast about leaving one behind. “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer”.

      2. She makes her prejudice known early on. From there it’s spaced out by sometimes interesting flavour writing, other times overdone creative writing… but it’s still there. Even the flavour writing is a slow build commentary on ideological purity, stoking envy at those sinners who earn more than “we” do. Max earns a lot of money and is a villain. Lewis, who also earns a lot of money (but this isn’t really mentioned just as the Sky team would neglect to mention such things), is okay because he makes the right political noises and is therefore ideologically pure.

        Formula 1 has been full of hangers-on and fakes for a very long time. I can’t see how any of this is news. There’s even a Grand Prix in Monaco now, in case you didn’t know. You know, that place with all the yachts? The race goes past the yachts so you can see them, realise how much of a peasant you are and how much you need to become a mindless foot soldier for those more desperate for power and social(ist) vandalism than righting any real social injustices. As far as I’m concerned Max can keep his millions. Unlike him, I do not have a skill unrivalled in human history. They’d spend millions on a car to make it go a couple of tenths quicker and Max has that couple of tenths over the fastest drivers in the world. In my mind it’s fair that if he does earn 70 million, that’s 70 million more than me.

        Wagner states that taking someone around the F1 paddock will turn someone into a socialist in about an hour. Her writing should be a hefty remedy to the kind of nonsense she spouts and is, as I have said, an unwitting parody of itself, in spite of its attempts to suck you in with what seems like grounded everyday flavour. She says she’d rather be right than happy, and yet she is completely blinded by her ideology. Socialism is something that is best used sparingly and judiciously rather than as the solution to everything as though it’s some sort of magic hammer (and sickle) that you go around hitting everything with. The pursuit of socialism as a dogma has impoverished millions and caused famine that has killed millions more, including in Ukraine, one of the most agriculturally productive countries on earth. In her writing she seeks problems for her solution, stokes envy to drive people toward the one and only solution they should believe in, in spite of all of the evidence, both contemporary and historical. Where whimsical it is only drawing you into its trap, which is comically decorated in leaves like in a children’s cartoon.

        I don’t like censorship. It’s hardly surprising that this article was withdrawn as a sponsor’s feature, however. If an attempt was made to publish it elsewhere it would hardly be deleted, unless Road and Track owns the copyright and they insist on both retaining exclusive publishing rights, while not publishing it. It’s a very dishonest article – about as genuine as all the F1 hangers-on. One paddock flaunts Rolex watches, the other grievance.

        Separate from the article: I don’t think Lewis is an ideologue and I expect that if he ever sees he’s been taken in by the wrong crowd that he can sort himself out pretty quickly. I am a cyclist and cover at least 8,000km each year; most of this is commuting. Some thoughts to be considered: should concern for the environment mean that we stop using oil and gas right now when it is clear from the war in Ukraine that anyone who cannot defend themselves invites invasion? When you have been conquered the hostile administration will not suddenly start showing concern for environmental or social policy. It is a fact that unilateral disarmament and surrendering energy security are foolish policies. Defence, energy and many other things need to be considered along with the environment. Petrochemical companies are not bad out of hand as this hate-blinded lady assumes. A more pertinent question might be the one for the Saudis: why did they ever side with Russia on oil pricing while they are being attacked by a group backed by Iran, a Russian ally?

        Striking a balance is difficult in many ways. Which policies are the most important? How do you package all the components of a ground-effect F1 car so it can go faster than the others? Such balances can be hard to get right. You don’t get them right when you don’t even try. This is what Kate Wagner’s piece does. There is no analysis, no attempt at balance – just the answer: socialism. Right, that was pretty long. If you’ve read this far and you still count yourself among the indoctrinated, then I’ll never be able to save you!

        1. As far as I’m concerned Max can keep his millions. Unlike him, I do not have a skill unrivalled in human history. They’d spend millions on a car to make it go a couple of tenths quicker and Max has that couple of tenths over the fastest drivers in the world. In my mind it’s fair that if he does earn 70 million, that’s 70 million more than me.

          For me the matter is even more simple. Does being envious make me a better person or does it make me happier? The answer is obviously no to both.

          Socialism also cannot solve inequality, because aside from socialists almost always completely misunderstanding how economics works, so their solutions never work out as they think, much inequality cannot be fixed through redistributing money. If everyone has access to the same healthcare, you will still have people with more and those with fewer health issues. And you cannot redistribute talent, good looks, personality differences, etc.

          So envy is a fundamentally bad mindset. The people who live it, can never change reality so their envy goes away. It’s also fundamentally self-obsession and harms people’s ability to empathize with others. Very often, when people with envy claim to have empathy, it is really just their own envy projected on others, which means that they cannot empathize with those who lack things that they do have.

          When it comes to individual people, whether they be rich or otherwise, my appreciation is more on how they deal with the hand they are dealt and such, than blaming people for being born with talent and getting to profit from that. I like Max because he never lets his wealth or the many people sucking up to him go to his head, where he thinks that he is better than others. I see very little difference from him in personality compared to amateur simmers or race car drivers who really, really enjoy racing and do it as much as they can, but who don’t have the talent or opportunity to get real money or recognition for their driving.

          And I agree with you that Lewis is not a bad sort of person, but he just doesn’t have the mental fortitude and wisdom to have an opinion that is independent of those around him. He has even been editing his memories of his past to fit the person that people want him to be, rather than person he actually is. His constant need to be motivated by perceived injustices happening to him, is really just him being motivated by envy, which is not a good mindset, in my opinion.

          1. Excellent. Very well thought out and explained. You and Lewis should go for a drink and a chat. Sometimes, I think I can see the impressionable kid in his eyes.

            You are right about envy. It’s good to be happy in living your own life and to set a quiet example for yourself.

            I like redemption, consideration and forgiveness, too, and think these things will keep coming back as they help us all to live with each other and ourselves.

            I don’t know Max and don’t really want to align myself with anyone. He does seem simple, straightforward, honest and direct. I like that. He’s right about Drive to Survive and it was interesting that he didn’t want to be involved for a while. Takes a certain amount of resilience.

    5. She says she is not ashamed, but should be

      1. @34rthl1ng I will be ashamed for your future self for you.

  2. New seating options will be offered this year including more than 7,000 general admission tickets. These will be priced at $600 for a three-day ticket, or $125, $225 and $350 respectively for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All prices exclude taxes and fees.

    I wonder if these 7,000 GA tickets include an actual view of the track. Last year there were standing room only tickets to watch a TV with no sight of the track; what a treat!

  3. Interesting article by Racecar Engineering, the way the BoP in LMH and LMDh is being done has indeed changed and from what I gather, seemingly for the better. Sportscar365 had some coverage of this as well, but they admitted to being left a bit puzzled by the ACO’s explanations, which seems to match the complexity described in the RE article. But once the results of the BoP are better I suspect people will stop caring how it works, just like in other BoP’d series, but it’s clear from both 2023 and now the race in Qatar that the governing bodies still have some work to do.

    Reading bits of the Kate Wagner article, it’s not a huge surprise a magazine pulled it. Her takes no doubt upset the very people the magazine is anxious to cultivate relations with to get the insider access they need for their coverage. But her description of the F1 paddock is quite amusing; it’s like a parallel world that briefly touches that of F1, without there being any interaction. You can follow F1 for years without these shenanigans having any impact on your experience. I’m reminded of a particularly wealthy man who described his peers as being ‘horrified of their normality’, telling how they get into all kinds of goofy things to reaffirm to both themselves and others that they are actually quite special. The way Wagner describes it, it sounds like some of these people are so desperate for that kind of recognition that they’ll happily be fleeced by the F1 world (and others) so long as they’re told they’re amazing. In a way, it’s actually kind of sad.

    1. The personal observations were not why it was pulled, pretty clear it was to spare the delicate feelings of corporate entities engaging in sportswashing that have (or might want to have) ties to R&T.
      “The petrochemical companies, deeply powerful institutions, need journalists to write about all the things they attach themselves to that are not being a petrochemical company,”

      1. Oh sure, although the magazine likely cares more about said contacts than the other way around. There’s no shortage of platforms. But a magazine without insider contacts can’t print many exclusive stories and quickly lose its appeal for readers.

  4. Comparing lap times in Bahrain with those of Bottas, Zhou’s were more consistently quick. Bottas had issues, but he wasn’t always stuck in traffic or having a cup of tea in the pit lane canteen.

  5. I read [most] of Behind the Velvet Curtain and it made me want to go read Hunter S Thompson’s “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved”.

    1. I’m a fan of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” so looked up the Kentucky Derby book on abe.com. Cheapest book was $2000. Fortunately a pdf of the article is available online. Worth a look.

      1. Actually, REALLY worth a read and then think of Vegas……

      2. I am also a fan of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (movie).
        Had my teenage and approaching teenage kids watch it for “educational ‘ purposes. Think they got the message .
        For anyone interested in Indycar and 500

        I am also a fan of Mel Kenyon (one of the most determined yet unsuccessful Indycar drivers, but there are reasons).which led me to an article titled


        which is an insight into real twists and turns behind the scenes.

        I don’t put links to other sights here.

        1. Sorry sites,
          and it relates to ownership of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  6. Neil (@neilosjames)
    6th March 2024, 6:55

    Went out of my way to find the Kate Wagner article, and wasn’t disappointed.

    It was interesting to read about how all the ‘stuff’ attached to F1 – the money, glamour, celebrities, paid-for exclusivity – that I just automatically filter out and ignore, stands out so vividly to someone experiencing it for the first time.

  7. Masterful. Been thinking about this article business all day. F1 has desperately been looking for something to take headlines away from Formula Horner. As Daniel Pund said no one had contacting him before the article was pulled, nobody cared. Now it’s been featured in what I see as 3 major international news outlets.

    F1’s brand is exclusivity, while some people will look at the article and roll their eyes, or perhaps are enlightened about the money involved. This is exactly what F1 is selling. An experience worth more than a journalists life-savings? That’s a selling point to F1’s target market, not a criticism. And for what criticism there is, there are just as many glowing words.

    There’s nothing new uncovered, there’s no revolutionary bomb-shells here, nothing worth investigating. Whether intentional by the writer or not, or at what level the deception runs, it’s served as a better advertisement for F1 than anything they could have bought.

    No one is not going to buy a ticket because of it, and I bet a few are considering learning what the fuss is all about that hadn’t bothered to previously.

    1. F1’s brand is exclusivity, while some people will look at the article and roll their eyes, or perhaps are enlightened about the money involved. This is exactly what F1 is selling. An experience worth more than a journalists life-savings? That’s a selling point to F1’s target market, not a criticism.

      I think that speaks to the parallel worlds at the F1 track. This whole paddock business has just about nothing to do with the event; it’s completely invisible to the trackside audience, and there’s none of it in the race broadcast. Even much of the pre- and post-race coverage, while filmed in the paddock, is almost exclusively about the presenters and the actual F1 team principals and drivers. It’s like its own separate event, and from the way it’s described, it sounds more like an awkward business conference mixed with a bunch of C-listers and ‘new money’ desperate for recognition. I don’t doubt that some find that fascinating, but it seems more amusing than anything else.

  8. Jeez that article that got pulled over. No wonder. It’s unreadable…

  9. adhering to an ironclad book of ethics where even accepting a pair of socks from a team is considered a faux pas


    1. They don’t shoot writers, do they?

  10. notagrumpyfan
    6th March 2024, 12:00

    The sub-championship ‘best of the rest’ could become quite interesting this year.
    (based on normal points structure plus FLAP’ for the five lesser teams)
    27 Sauber (ZHO 25, BOT 2)
    27 RB (RIC 15, TSU 12)
    26 Haas (MAG 18, HUL 8)
    12 Williams (ALB 10, SAR 2′)
    19 Alpine (OCO 6, GAS 4)

  11. isthatglock21
    6th March 2024, 14:11

    “If you wanted to turn someone into a socialist you could do it in about an hour by taking them for a spin around the paddock of a Formula 1 race. The kind of money I saw will haunt me forever” Wow…I can’t say I disagree. Many hardcore fans have said this for years, can’t believe they removed her article.

    1. +1 hear her

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