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Maserati’s James Rossiter: “You learn the most from your bad days – not your good ones”

Maserati MSG Racing Team Principal James Rossiter labelled the opening round of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship as a “difficult day”, with the team having failed to score points at the Mexico City E-Prix.

Ahead of the season-opening round at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, many had tipped Maserati to be towards the front, based on the fact that the Monte-Carlo-based outfit were incredibly impressive during pre-season testing. The high altitude, though, in Mexico City caused some issues for Maximilian Günther and Edoardo Mortara, who struggled during qualifying in particular.

Both Maserati drivers failed to make it into the duels, with Rossiter being aware that this left them on the “back foot” ahead of the first race of the Gen3 era. Mortara and Günther qualified sixteenth and seventeenth, with the German driver having made up six places during the race to claim eleventh. Whilst Günther narrowly missed out on the points places, Mortara failed to even finish the race, after crashing at Turn One on the eighteenth lap.

Looking back on the weekend, Rossiter has admitted that “you learn the most from your bad days”, with the team having certainly expected more from Mexico City. The side will look over the data ahead of the upcoming Diriyah E-Prix, as they look to bounce back in Saudi Arabia.

“It was a difficult day but in motorsport, you learn the most from your bad days – not your good ones. A poor qualifying put us on the back foot, but in the race, we were able to come back strong, with Max fighting from 17th to 11th and finishing just outside the points.

Maximilian Günther: Maserati Package ‘Competitive’ Despite Qualifying Struggles

It wasn’t the season-opening race that Maximilian Günther was expecting at the Mexico City E-Prix, with the German having failed to make it into the duels and into the points places during the race.

Many had expected the star of pre-season testing to excel at the first race of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, with Maserati MSG Racing having looked strong during pre-season. In Günther’s and Maserati’s defence, the teams that looked strong ahead of the season weirdly struggled at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with the high altitude in Mexico City having made getting the new Hankook tyres up to temperature a challenge.

After starting seventeenth, Günther demonstrated strong pace during the race to climb six places, with the “efficiency” of the Maserati Tipo Folgore having looked better than most. He ultimately missed out on points by a whisker, after finishing eleventh.

Whilst Günther was likely disappointed with the outcome of the first round, having struggled to find the tyres “sweet spot”, he is at least pleased by the data that the team gained from the start of the Gen3 era.

“This weekend has been tough for us as a team. With the high altitude it was quite difficult to get the tyres into the sweet spot which impacted our pace in qualifying. Starting from the back, our pace in the race was much better and our efficiency and strategy proved to be competitive.

Ford to honour Ken Block on cars throughout 2023

Tributes across the motorsport world to Ken Block have come in many forms. The World Rally Championship and Nitro Rallycross have both retired his #43 from use, with the former doing so for the 2023 season whereas the latter’s is permanent, while close friend Travis Pastrana is competing in this weekend’s Nitro RX round in a special snow-camo livery.

Ford, who provided rally cars for Block and his Hoonigan Racing Division from 2010 to 2020, will also honour the late racing icon throughout the 2023 calendar year as all affiliated cars will sport a special tribute decal.

As part of his decade-long partnership with Ford, Block raced vehicles like the Ford Fiesta and Focus in rallycross and WRC. Multiple Fords were used in his acclaimed Gymkhana video series including a modified Mustang nicknamed the “Hoonicorn” and the “Hoonitruck” F-150.

“Ken, all of our race teams across all series are gonna bring you along for one final ride to start the season. We miss you,” reads a statement from Ford Performance.

Block switched to Audi in 2021, with whom he was affiliated until his death in early January in a snowmobile accident. Two days later, Team Audi Sport placed a “Racing for Ken #43” sticker along the A-pillar of their Dakar Rally cars.

Zeroid X1, Supercar Lites tabbed as rallycross vehicles for 2023 Race of Champions

With the Race of Champions once again taking place on snow and ice, it only makes sense for rallycross cars to show up. In 2023’s case, the Zeroid X1 and Supercar Lites will fill that slot once again.

The Zeroid X1 (stylised in all caps as ZEROID X1) is the formal name of the spec car used by the FIA World Rallycross Championship’s RX2e category. Developed by QEV Technologies, it attained its current name in March when QEV rolled out the Zeroid brand of electric commercial vans. It weighs 1,170 kg and is capable of 335 horsepower with 510 Nm of torque.

The Supercar Lites have appeared at ROC since 2017, with 2022 marking the first year that it ran on fossil-free biofuel developed by Olsbergs MSE and P1 Performance Fuels. The car is lighter than the X1 at 1,100 kg and is slightly slower with 320 horsepower.

QEV began 2023 focusing on promoting Zeroid, especially as its commercial vehicles intend to start production later in the year. A fleet of X1s appeared at the Autosport International show where they raced against Supercars with internal combustion engines.

The Andorran ice rallycross GSeries also débuted the GSeries-E as its top category, where all competitors race the X1. The season opener on 14 January saw an RX2e podium sweep with Guillaume De Ridder, Raül Ferré, and and Viktor Vranckx.

Nitro Rallycross Honors Ken Block by Retiring the No. 43

The series announced on Friday that the number 43 will be permanently retired from competition in honor of motorsport icon Ken Block‘s legacy.

Block, known for the Gymkhana YouTube series, co-founding the Hoonigan brand, and multiple WRC and rallycross appearances, passed away a little under three weeks ago. Block was integral to Nitro Rallycross being a founding Nitro RX driver when the series first launched in 2018. He competed in the Ford Focus RSRX under the Hoonigan Loenbro team where unfortunately he would not start in the final. Following the next year, Block would return to the same team with an upgraded Ford Fiesta RX and finished sixth in the final.

When he wasn’t traveling the world shooting his next Gymkhana film or winning in the ARA Rally Championship he took interest in his kids and their racing progress. The Head-Hoonigan-In-Charge would then take on a mentoring role behind the scenes at NRX as he coached his, now 16-year-old daughter, Lia Block, in the RX3 and Side-by-Side classes.

The series had some kind words to share about Block in a blog post stating, “Ken’s achievements behind the wheel are legendary, matched only by his passion for the sport. A creative force, Ken’s viral videos transformed rallycross and opened it up to a new generation of fans.”

In addition to the retirement of the number, Vermont Sportscar debuted a tribute livery that Travis Pastrana will be driving during the race weekend in Trois-Rivieres, paying homage to Ken’s 2005 snow-camo livery that he ran in the ARA Championship.

Andrea Stella, ‘not concerned’ at Piastri’s lack of experience ahead of the 2023 season.

Despite Oscar Piastri lacking the necessary experience in driving a FIA Formula 1 World Championship car, McLaren’s new boss Andrea Stella believes it will not impact the team’s success in the coming season, as long as Lando Norris remains consistent in setting the reference for the rest of the group.

Back in the summer of 2022, the McLaren driver-up was Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. However, it was unclear whether the Australian would see out his contract, or rookie Oscar Piastri would make the graduation to a Formula 1 seat. After Alpine initially announced Piastri for 2023, he stated that he had no intention of driving for Alpine in 2023, and it seemed all the more likely that Ricciardo’s contract was coming to an early end.

It was well known that Daniel Ricciardo, from the very beginning, had fallen short of the expectations set on him by McLaren CEO Zak Brown. And despite winning McLaren their first race in over 10 years, Ricciardo was swiftly ejected from the McLaren seat to make way for Mark Webber‘s protégé, Oscar Piastri.

Now the team has moved on to a driver that they hope will single the dawn of a new age, some fresh meat for the team in hopes that they’ll catch the top three teams and bring back their competitive streak.

Stella hopes Lando Norris will set an example for Piastri – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Speaking to the media, Andrea Stella, who was appointed McLaren F1 Team principal after Andreas Sidel announced his departure, has spoken openly about Piastri’s level of experience, which surprisingly doesn’t seem to be a huge worry for the team.



Fraser McConnell Fights the Freeze to Take His Second Top Qualifier in Trois-Rivieres

Fraser McConnell secured his second top qualifier award of the season over Andreas Bakkerud in the battle bracket finals at Trois-Rivieres on Friday night.

The Jamaican driver came into this weekend with little to no experience on ice but managed to get a short testing session in Finland last week just before heading to Nitro Rallycross. McConnell made his way through the battle brackets besting XITE Energy Racing driver Kris Meeke after an issue caused him to pull off, and Oliver Eriksson who just didn’t get the launch to keep up with McConnell. Fraser leads into tomorrow with a few extra points and an easy front-row slot in the heat races.

Behind him fell Andreas Bakkerud who finished as a runner-up once the Battle Brackets had finished. The Norwegian fan favorite was able to successfully get a better launch than OMSE‘s Kevin Eriksson in his first battle bracket leading him to take the win and go on and face his teammate Robin Larsson in his second bracket. Although a very tight and close battle, Bakkerud managed to stave Larsson off and keep his position to move onto the final where he would lose out on the start to Fraser and never recover.

Robin Larsson topped the leaderboards in the final free practice netting him an easy pass into the second bracket quarter-finals. There he would first face Oliver Bennett where they would battle throughout the first banked turn with Larsson coming out on top when Bennett ran into the wall and collected damage to his car. In his second battle bracket he would fight closely with his teammate Bakkerud staying on his tail the entire race but just coming short across the line.

Vermont Sportscar’s Travis Pastrana put on quite a show in his bracket race after battling with Oliver Eriksson. The founder of NRX made an astounding pass around the outside of Eriksson and managed to take the lead at the start. From then he would drive fast and a bit risking, jumping into the snowbanks and clipping the walls but his misfortune came when he tagged a snowbank and ran the car deep into the snow turning him the wrong way allowing Eriksson to pass and eliminate him. Connor Martell was defeated by Bennet in the very first bracket race of the day ending his day early.

Duggan and Townsend join Toro Verde’s British GT4 entry with Ginetta

Porsche Carrera Cup GB regulars Toro Verde will make their Intelligent Money British GT Championship debut this season with a Ginetta G56 GT4 driven by James Townsend and Ian Duggan, both of whom make the switch from the Ginetta GT4 Super Cup have progressed through the Ginetta motorsport ranks and have previously raced together in GT Cup.

Toro Verde, founded in 2021 have raced throughout the UK and Europe, originally taking part in the GT2 European Series, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe and the Ginetta GT5 Challenge in the UK. 2022 saw the team enter the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the Gulf 12 Hours and the Ginetta GT Academy.

Duggan began his racing career in the Ginetta G40 Chairmans Cup finishing third in his first season in 2019 before winning the GT5 Challenge Am class in 2020. He then paired up with Townsend in GT Cup behind the wheel of the G55 GT4, the same car in which Duggan would go on to take the 2022 Ginetta GT4 Super Cup AM championship.

“Racing with Ginetta has given me a national platform to hone my skills and improve my race craft over the past five years, and having had success in two very competitive championships I’m now excited to step up to compete in British GT and test my ability,” he said.

“James and I have continually pushed each other to improve – something I’m looking forward to continuing this season. With the support and GT experience of Toro Verde I’m sure we can be competitive and challenge for wins.”

Red Bull were Happy to Allow ‘Willing Partner’ Honda to Focus on Performance Gains – Horner

Christian Horner has revealed that Red Bull Racing were willing to do anything they could to ensure their partnership with Honda worked, and they have been rewarded with two Drivers’ Championships for Max Verstappen and one Constructors’ Championship win.

Honda first joined forces with Scuderia Toro Rosso (now Scuderia AlphaTauri) in 2018 after they cut short their alliance with the McLaren F1 Team, with Red Bull jumping on board in 2019 after they themselves ended their own partnership with Renault.

Red Bull were able to get more out of the power units and brought themselves into championship contention in 2021, with Verstappen edging out Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Lewis Hamilton in the season finale in Abu Dhabi, albeit in contentious circumstances.

Honda withdrew from Formula 1 at the end of the season but allowed Red Bull to take over ownership of its power units, with the Japanese marque still responsible for the maintenance and updates for the engine. 

It was much more clear cut in 2022 with Verstappen winning fifteen of the twenty two races on his way to his second title, but Horner says it was important during the early days of the Red Bull Honda partnership that they would allow them to do anything they wanted to ensure performance came.

Mercedes will find it ‘Difficult’ to Close Gap to Red Bull early in 2023 – Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff says the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team may still be behind Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari when the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season gets underway in Bahrain.

Mercedes were around half a second down on their rivals during the 2022 season and Team Principal Wolff says it will be difficult for them to quickly claw their way back to the front of the field. 

They scored only one race victory and took only one pole position in 2022 – both courtesy of George Russell – a very different season to what they were expecting after winning eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships between 2014 and 2021. Pre-season

And heading into 2023, Mercedes are looking to regain that kind of form again, but Wolff remains realistic and acknowledges it will be difficult to close that gap.

“I think we have understood how we fell back, where the shortcomings are, and where we have gaps in understanding,” Wolff is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.

Some of my Best Performances of 2022 came in ‘Boring Races’ – Lando Norris

Lando Norris says some of the more boring races of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season were his best ones, with the Briton admitting to not having had as much excitement driving last year compared to previous seasons.

The McLaren F1 Team driver has already admitted that he is not the biggest fan of the cars following changes to aerodynamic regulations ahead of the 2022 campaign, and it meant he was less excited about the racing as a result.

Norris scored McLaren’s only top three finish when he took third place in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix but felt some of the other races, such as the United States Grand Prix, were amongst his better ones of the campaign.

The twenty-three-year-old says for McLaren, it was the results that scored them the most points that were the best, such as at Imola and in Singapore, but on a personal level, he felt there were better performances.

“I would say Imola because it is the one that we achieved the most in,” Norris is quoted as saying by GPFans.com.  “But I don’t think we were any quicker in Imola than we were in any other race.

Szafnauer Issues Ocon Warning about Robust On-Track Fighting against New Team-mate Gasly

Otmar Szafnauer has warned Esteban Ocon not to fight too hard with his new team-mate Pierre Gasly on track, as on-track clashes have the potential to see the BWT Alpine F1 Team lose out.

Ocon has a history of moments against team-mates during his FIA Formula 1 World Championship career, with clashes with Sergio Pérez whilst they were team-mates at the Racing Point Formula 1 Team and, more recently, incidents against Fernando Alonso at Alpine.

Rumours about a long-time rift between Ocon and Gasly have been rife ever since the latter was confirmed to replace Alonso for the 2023 season, although both drivers have subsequently laughed this off.

Team Principal Szafnauer insists that Ocon will be reminded that it is a team game should he battle too hard against his new team-mate, and it will only be the team that loses out should they collide.

“He needs to probably make better judgements when his team-mates are next to him, because you don’t win it on the first lap, team-mate or not,” Szafnauer is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.

Bottas Already Sees ‘Potential’ of Growth and ‘Progress’ at Alfa Romeo ahead of 2023 Season

Valtteri Bottas says there is a lot of potential at Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN, and they can go far under the leadership of Audi Sport when the German marque take over the running of the team in 2026.

Bottas joined Alfa Romeo in 2022 after five years with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, and he helped the Hinwil-based team secure sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship.

The Finn acknowledges that Alfa Romeo are one of the smaller teams on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship grid at present, but there are a lot of people that are assets to the team, on top of facilities that are great and offer potential of growth.

And with Audi coming in to take over, Bottas sees no reason why the team cannot make a step forward and bring themselves into the title picture at the front of the field.

“Absolutely, all of the potential is there that I’ve seen with the people,” said Bottas to Racer.com. “It feels like quite a young team and there’s lots of people that think outside the box, which is good. Facilities at the factory are great, the wind tunnel is great…

“If it hadn’t been me, it might have been someone else” – Hülkenberg on Replacing Schumacher

Nico Hülkenberg admits he has not spoken to Mick Schumacher since he took over his seat with the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, but he feels that if it had not been him replacing him then it would likely have been someone else.

Schumacher was released by Haas after two seasons with the team having scored points on only two occasions, while he was also responsible for two of the biggest crashes of the season in Saudi Arabia and Monaco that cost the team a lot of money in repairs.

Hülkenberg returns to Formula 1 after three years on the side-lines to partner Kevin Magnussen, and the German says he did not really have a close relationship with the driver he replaces, but he feels that Schumacher was going to be replaced by someone, whether it was him or another driver.

“We haven’t spoken to each other since,” Hülkenberg said to German broadcaster RTL, as quoted by PlanetF1.com. “We never really exchanged ideas before that either.

“Mick is also a different generation. We never had a real relationship, something like he has with Sebastian.  The story is what it is. If it hadn’t been me, it might have been someone else.”

2023 Africa Eco Race postponed to 2024

The Africa Eco Race prides itself in following the original route of the Dakar Rally beginning in Europe and ending in Dakar, Senegal. However, amidst flooding in Dakar and concerns about other weather events, organisers have elected to postpone the 2023 edition from its 11–26 March slot to 30 December, meaning it will run through 14 January 2024. It is not clear if the new date will also take the place of a 2024 Eco Race.

Organisers cited heavy rain and resulting floods in Dakar, especially at the Lac Rose pink lake where the Eco Race finishes; the flooding had resulted in multiple deaths in 2022. Concern was also due to the recently concluded Dakar Rally in its current home Saudi Arabia, where the first half was plagued by rain which caused an already difficult 2023 course to become even harder for competitors. Dakar officials had to make multiple scheduling changes to work around the situation such as shortening Stages #3 and #7 as well as cancelling Stage #7 for Bikes.

Weather had also impacted the 2022 Eco Race, though on the opposite end as racers had to contend with more extreme heat and dust storms.

“After several editions impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic, we did everything possible to go on the adventure again in March 2023,” reads a statement from organisers. “However, despite all our commitment, and in consultation with the Senegalese Federation of Motor Sports and Motorcycling, we have regretfully taken the decision to postpone the 15th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE.

“Indeed, like other sporting events, the current climatic upheavals are forcing us to rethink and adapt our human activities. Other races have also been hit hard at the beginning of 2023, like the one that has just ended in Saudi Arabia in harsh and unsatisfactory conditions.


RaceScene.com