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Christian Horner says he was happy to let Alexander Albon join Williams Racing in 2022, with the Team Principal of Red Bull Racing feeling the Anglo-Thai driver has been a ‘hugely valuable asset’ to his team this year.

Albon has been test and reserve driver at Red Bull during 2021 after they opted to replace him in the race seat at the end of 2020 in favour of Sergio Pérez, who has already been confirmed to retain the seat alongside Max Verstappen for 2022.

Red Bull will relinquish their alliance with Albon due to his move to Williams, but they will have options in the future to bring him back into their stable.  And Horner is delighted to see him back in Formula 1 for next year.

“We rate Alex very highly and with our line-up for 2022 fixed, our objective was to help find him a seat in another team where he could gain more F1 mileage and experience and we are delighted to have done that with Williams Racing,” said Horner.

“Alex has been a hugely valuable asset in his role as our Test & Reserve Driver this year, helping bring performance from the simulator to the car each weekend, but for his career it was important not to spend another season out of an F1 race seat.

After a year on the side-lines, Alexander Albon will re-join the Formula 1 grid in 2022 after being signed to race for Williams Racing alongside Nicholas Latifi.

Albon was dropped from his seat at Red Bull Racing at the end of the 2020 season and has been acting as their reserve and test driver for 2021, but he will now find himself back in a race seat for 2022 as he takes the place of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team bound George Russell.

The Anglo-Thai driver has been impressed by the progress made by Williams in 2021, and he is eager to help them continue that development into 2022, when the new aerodynamic regulations come into effect.

“I am really excited and looking forward to returning to a Formula 1 race seat in 2022,” said Albon.  “When you take a year out of F1 it’s never certain you will make a return so I’m extremely thankful to Red Bull and Williams for believing in me and helping me on my journey back to the grid.

“It’s also been great to see all the progress Williams have been making as a team this year and I look forward to helping them continue that journey in 2022.

There will be no return to Formula 1 at the Italian Grand Prix held in the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for Kimi Räikkönen as the COVID-19 infection continues to force the Finn to sit out another Grand Prix weekend.

Räikkönen, who became a very popular driver in Italy after he claimed the 2007 Driver’s Championship title as a Scuderia Ferrari driver, will not get a last chance to race in a Grand Prix weekend at Monza ahead of his planned retirement at the end of the season.

Räikkönen’s team Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN confirmed that the Finn is still in quarantine ahead of this weekend’s competition in Italy. Räikkönen tested positive for COVID-19 before the Dutch Grand Prix last week and he went home after the positive test result. The same reason keeps him away for another race and he will be replaced again by the reserve driver Robert Kubica.

” Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN can confirm that reserve driver, Robert Kubica, will continue to deputise for Kimi Räikkönen at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix,” said a statement from Alfa Romeo. “Kimi missed last week’s race in Zandvoort after testing positive to Covid-19 and has not yet been cleared for a return to racing.

“As per health authority requirements, he is still isolating in his home. Robert, who performed admirably in the Netherlands after stepping in at short notice before FP3, will return to the car alongside Antonio Giovinazzi.”

Fortec Motorsport have announced a familiar face will make his GB3 Championship debut at Oulton Park this weekend, in the form of 2020 F4 British Championship champion Luke Browning.

He took seven wins, 16 total podiums and six poles as he claimed the title at the last gasp ahead of Zak O’Sullivan, who goes into the penultimate round of the season with a chance to take his first championship triumph a round early.

The final race of last season was curtailed due to a sudden downpour, seeing half-points awarded which meant O’Sullivan fell four points short of taking the title.

The Cheshire driver won all three races at his local circuit last season, and will hope that success will set him up for a positive debut weekend.

Browning sits fifth in ADAC F4 with a win to his name, while runaway leader Oliver Bearman took a win on his return to GB3 at Snetterton 300 in August.

Brett Moffitt is out of commission for Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway. On Wednesday, Moffitt announced due to an illness that prevented him from running the previous week’s Darlington Raceway event, he will have to skip Richmond. Ty Dillon will replace him in the #02 Chevrolet Camaro of Our Motorsports for the second straight race. Details of his sickness were not disclosed, but it is unlikely to be COVID-19 as he explained in a statement that he is attending the race.

“I’ll be in Richmond this weekend with the Our Motorsports team, but it will be as a spectator atop the team pit box,” began his release. “Last Saturday, en route to Darlington, I started feeling ill, which ultimately caused me to miss that race. After meeting with my doctors this week, they want me to sit out at Richmond as well, just as a precautionary measure. I plan to return to the seat of the #02 Chevy next week at Bristol (Motor Speedway).

“Thanks to Ty Dillon for filling in for me at Darlington. I’ll be rooting him on in person as he takes the wheel of the #02 Fr8Auctions Chevrolet again this Saturday!”

In having to skip two races, Moffitt’s playoff hopes take a hit as the Xfinity Series enters the penultimate round of the regular season. He is currently twenty-second in points with eight top-ten finishes and a best run of second in the season opener at Daytona, but he switched from Camping World Truck Series points in April and thus had to start his Xfinity run with zero points. While he will almost certainly receive a waiver from NASCAR to participate in the postseason should he qualify, he needs to win the final race at Bristol in order to do so; he finished twenty-sixth in his lone Xfinity start there in 2020, while he has a win in the Trucks.

The last two seasons have proven unlucky for Moffitt in the health department. When the 2020 slate was paused in the spring due to the pandemic, he broke his legs in a motocross accident, though the freeze bought him enough time to recover without missing a race. He would reach the Truck Series Championship Round that year.

The NASCAR Cup Series‘ Next Gen car will make its racing début in the 2022 Daytona 500; being a superspeedway where drafting is key, it was imperative that the sanctioning body learn how the car works in the draft. On Tuesday and Wednesday, eight drivers and their teams participated in a test session around Daytona International Speedway in which they piloted Next Gen cars in a pack and while running the draft.

Of the eight teams, four were Chevrolet-powered: Chip Ganassi Racing (Ross Chastain), Hendrick Motorsports (William Byron), JTG Daugherty Racing (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.), Richard Childress Racing (Austin Dillon). Joe Gibbs Racing (Denny Hamlin) was the lone Toyota, while Roush Fenway Racing (Chris Buescher), Stewart-Haas Racing (Cole Custer), and Team Penske (Joey Logano) were the Fords. All but Chastain, Hamlin, and Stenhouse had tested the Next Gen car in the past in single-car sessions using the P3 prototype, which had no manufacturer markings.

While one-driver runs were the norm throughout the testing process, the test was the second to feature multiple cars after a two-man test at Charlotte in October with Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. It was also the second test at Daytona after Buescher took part in a December run; the Daytona Road Course held a session for Xfinity Series driver Austin Cindric and IMSA team Action Express Racing last August.

Between testing days, the tapered spacer—which limits speeds on superspeedways akin to its predecessor, the restrictor plate—was reduced in size as was the rear spoiler, dropping the car’s horsepower to 510. The Next Gen car is expected to run at 670 or 550 hp under the rules packages to be set by NASCAR once 2022 arrives, a reduction from the current 750- and 550-hp setups for the Gen-6.

Another noticeable change is the door number placement as it will be moved closer to the front wheel for the seventh-generation vehicle, a change that has proven polarising among fans and industry personnel. While Buescher’s, Byron’s, Logano’s and Stenhouse’s cars kept their numbers directly below the window as usual, Chastain, Custer, and Dillon opted to move them forward. Of course, Chastain’s #42 will not be on the track in 2022 as CGR has been bought out and he will drive the #1 that year instead. Hamlin and JGR elected to ditch the number entirely in favour of a FedEx logo on the side.

Mahindra Racing has confirmed that Oliver Rowland will join their team for the 2021-22 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season, with Alexander Sims remaining as his team-mate.

Alex Lynn has departed the team despite taking a race victory in the London E-Prix during the 2020-21 season and finishing the higher of the two drivers in the final standings.

Rowland makes the switch from Nissan e.dams, with the Briton having taken one victory, five podium finishes and five pole positions during his Formula E career, all of which he is aiming to build on when he moves to Mahindra.

“I’m very excited to be joining Mahindra Racing for Season 8,” said Rowland. “Moving to a new team there will of course be a transition but I think that, with the combination of my experience in Formula E and the team’s results last season, we have the potential to achieve some great things together.

“I’m really happy to have Alexander as my team-mate and look forward to working with him on extracting the most from the car and getting some strong results for the team.”

Valtteri Bottas has spoken of his pride of what he and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team have achieved in their five years together, with the Finn leaving the team at the end of the current season to join Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN.

Bottas joined Mercedes for the 2017 season after the shock retirement of Nico Rosberg, and since then he has helped them win four consecutive Constructors’ Championships.  He has taken nine race wins, fifty-four podiums and seventeen pole positions, all of which he will be aiming to improve on between now and the end of the season in Abu Dhabi in December.

“I am so proud of everything we have achieved together in my time with Mercedes – and it is not over yet, because we have our biggest challenge so far to try and claim our eighth constructors’ title,” said Bottas.

“When I look back on my time with Mercedes, I want to be able to say that I squeezed every drop out of this opportunity and left nothing on the table; and I want to make sure that we finish our time together as champions.”

Bottas says it has been a privilege to race alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, and he has always had a good relationship with his team-mate that has helped the team maintain their consistency as they fought at the front of the field.

Charles Leclerc felt ‘pretty happy’ with the performance shown by Scuderia Ferrari during the Dutch Grand Prix weekend, with the Monegasque racer starting and finishing fifth on Sunday.

Leclerc said he did not want to take too many risks at the start, but once the race settled down, he found the pace of his SF21 to be close to the pace of Pierre Gasly in fourth place, but the Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver just had that little extra to prevent him from moving up a place.

He was also surprised by the performance and longevity of the medium compound of Pirelli tyre, but he still felt his strategy of using the soft and then the hard compounds was the right way to go.

“I’m pretty happy with our overall performance of this weekend,” said Leclerc.  “Finishing with both cars in the points today is a good result.

“The start was good, but then I didn’t want to take too many risks. I think the main surprise for everyone was how long the Mediums could last. Still, I think that the Soft–Hard combination was the right choice for us. We were very close in pace to the car ahead, but it was just not enough today.

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda will field an unchanged line-up for the 2022 Formula 1 season after announcing that both Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda will remain with the team next year.

Gasly has been one of the standout drivers across the past two seasons with the team, claiming his maiden Formula 1 victory in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix and standing on the podium on a handful of occasions, including this year in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Frenchman is hoping that the momentum the team is building can continue as he looks to take AlphaTauri up the grid next season.

“I am very happy to be moving forward with Scuderia AlphaTauri for another season in Formula 1, especially after seeing the progress that we’ve made as a team since I first joined in 2017,” expressed Gasly.  

“Seeing the performance we’ve shown so far this season, I think there are great things to achieve for the rest of this season and for next year, especially with the upcoming changes to the championship in 2022.

On lap 125 of Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, Kyle Busch wrecked with Austin Dillon. Rather than heading to pit road to assess the damage, Busch elected to go directly to the garage and retire from the race. Heading to the infield at high speeds, he knocked over orange cones and forced passersby to get out of the way.

While certainly expediting his trip to the garage, NASCAR was less than pleased with the blatant safety concerns created by his speedy exit. The lone entry on Tuesday’s penalty report indicated that Busch has been fined $50,000 for the act. Specifically, Busch broke Sections 12.1.a, 12.5.2.5.a, and 12.8.a of the rulebook, which address personnel conduct and actions detrimental to stock car racing.

Busch was officially classified in thirty-fifth after his DNF. He was one of seven retirements, with all but one being for crash damage (Erik Jones exited with an engine failure).

He did not blame Dillon for the wreck and commented in an interview with NBCSN that “we were running like shit and we got wrecked, so that’s what you get when you run like shit. […]

“I don’t know what our problem is. Every time we go to the sim, a new sim, and think we have a good sim session, we go to the race track and we suck. I’m done with that.”

Beard Motorsports is back for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. On Tuesday, the team announced it will enter the 2022 season-opening Daytona 500 with the #62 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, and the possibility of running the other three superspeedway races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway have not been ruled out.

A driver of the car was not immediately revealed. Xfinity Series regular Noah Gragson was to make his Cup début in the entry at the 2021 Daytona 500 but failed to qualify after being caught in a wreck in his Bluegreen Vacations Duel. Prior to the qualifying races, team owner Mark Beard died at the age of 72, which left the team’s future in question and it has not entered any events since the 500.

Beard Motorsports first appeared in 2014 with Clay Rogers, who débuted the team in what is now the ARCA Menards Series in 2009. However, Rogers failed to qualify for the two Cup races that the team entered.

Brendan Gaughan joined the organisation in 2017 as its Cup programme was revived. Gaughan scored four top-ten finishes with a best run of seventh twice in seventeen races, all but one of which was a superspeedway; the lone exception was the Daytona Road Course in 2020 before his retirement. Gaughan currently serves as the team’s vice president of racing operations, while crew chief Darren Shaw is the lone full-time employee. Shaw has worked as Beard’s crew chief since 2017.

“My father was passionate about racing, and he took a great deal of pride in coming to Daytona and competing against the biggest names in the sport,” team executive vice president Amie Beard stated. “He passed away just before this year’s Daytona 500, and his presence was definitely missed.”

Pierre Gasly had an excellent Dutch Grand Prix weekend, with the Frenchman qualifying and finishing fourth at the Circuit Zandvoort, behind only Max Verstappen and the two Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers.

The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver had a superb weekend amid the sand dunes in The Netherlands, with the Frenchman qualifying on the second row on Saturday before converting that into fourth on Sunday, finishing well clear of the chasing pack, which was led by Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Gasly says the team did an amazing job all weekend long at Zandvoort and they have been rewarded with twelve points towards the Constructors’ Championship as they bid to finish fifth in 2021.

“P4 is an amazing result today, I don’t think we could really hope for much better and it’s 12 important points for us,” said Gasly.  “I really enjoyed all 72 laps here in Zandvoort, it’s a fantastic track.

“I had fun today, I’m really pleased with everything, the car is really fast and I managed to get it set-up just the way I wanted.

Lewis Hamilton lost the lead in the Drivers’ Championship after Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix, but the Briton was quick to praise the crowd at the Circuit Zandvoort, even though the majority were supporting his rival for the title, Max Verstappen.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver was forced to settle for second at Zandvoort behind Verstappen, with the positions ensuring the Dutchman now holds the lead in the standings, albeit by only three points.

Hamilton reckons that even with a perfect Sunday, he would have struggled to beat Verstappen and Red Bull Racing, but he was delighted to run him close around a track he felt was amazing to attack, particularly on low fuel at the end.

“What a race and what a crowd, honestly, it’s been an amazing weekend,” said Hamilton.  “Max did a great job so congrats to him. I gave it everything I had out there, but they were just too quick for us this weekend.

“I think even if we’d have got everything right today with the traffic, the pit stops and the strategy, it’d still have been tough to get by them. We didn’t get those elements spot on, but either way, we pushed as much as we could and we’ll take it offline, debrief and see how we could have improved.

There will be a new series supporting the GB3 Championship in 2022, in the form of the newly-announced GB4 Championship.

The series will use the same Tatuus F4-T014 chassis as Spanish, Italian and ADAC F4 series’, bringing it closer to the current GB3 car, while GB3 will also move to a bespoke Tatuus MSV-022 next year.

This will allow teams to use 80% of the same parts across both cars, with the Tatuus chassis’ being broadly similar, further driving down running costs.

MotorSport Vision (MSV)’s new championship will add a feeder series between karting and GB3 on its books, though Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer insisted the series is “not designed to compete with the F4 British Championship“.

That distinction is key, as Motorsport UK has taken control of British F4, introducing a halo-shod car which will increase running costs, both compared to this season’s car, and next season’s GB4 offering.


RaceScene.com