Fittipaldi signing addresses Haas sim weakness. By: Scott Mitchell

Signing Pietro Fittipaldi will help the Haas Formula 1 team address a weakness with its simulator use, reckons the team’s race driver Romain Grosjean.

Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time world champion Emerson, has been named Haas’s 2019 reserve driver and make his F1 test debut in Abu Dhabi this month as part of his new role.

The 2017 Formula V8 3.5 champion has had a disrupted season across multiple categories – the World Endurance Championship, IndyCar and Super Formula – after breaking his leg earlier this year. 

“We need some help in the team, especially on the simulator side,” said Grosjean. “It will be good to have him, he will have a taste of the car in Abu Dhabi and he can jump in the simulator and work on the correlation, when we get it, it is nice and ready to go.

“We are still working on plans and making sure we get better [at simulation]. The correlation is the trickiest part to get right and the one you need to get right before you do any set-up work.

“It has been okay, we have been able to work with it [but] with race drivers it is hard to go between races.”

Haas was in talks with Fittipaldi over testing opportunities prior to his leg-breaking shunt at Spa ahead of the WEC season opener earlier this year.

Team principal Gunther Steiner explained that those talks morphed into discussions over a proper roleonce Haas established Fittipaldi could help boost its sim efforts.

“We talked again and decided to use him next year for testing and simulator development because they need to get better,” said Steiner.

“Because we are young, we need to find areas to improve. That is why next year we decided to have a programme where our simulator programme is as good as possible, so on Friday we can test set-ups and with aero developments, we put them in first with Pietro [on the simulator], and just get better.”

Fittipaldi’s opportunity was described as a “genuine test role” by Steiner.

It follows a now-standard development driver model among F1 teams, which has been specifically credited by the likes of Ferrari for turnarounds in form from Friday practice to Saturday this season.

Additional reporting by Stuart Codling and Oleg Karpov

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Hamlin forgoes picking No. 1 pit stall, giving it to Kyle Busch By: Nick DeGroot

Hamlin played spoiler in the final round of qualifying, jumping the title contenders and taking pole for the third time in the last four seasons.

But after winning the pole with teammate and Championship 4 driver Kyle Busch alongside, there were immediate discussions regarding the possibility he would give up the No. 1 pit stall.

That’s probably too far, but it would sure be nice,” said Busch of such a possibility.

I agree it’s way too far,” chimed in Martin Truex Jr., who found himself in a similar position as Busch in 2017. In fact, the reigning series champions asked Hamlin if he would give them the No. 1 stall last year, which they declined to do.

He later added, “I think if you get the pole, yes, the first pit box. I think that’s what we were all shooting for tonight. Anywhere else in the top 10 or 12, it’s a long race; a lot happens here. Long runs come into play, and if you’re good, you can drive pretty much from anywhere in the field.”

Exemplifying the importance of that first pit stall, Busch said, “I think that if you’re not in the No. 1 pit box, then 2 through 40 are the same.”

For the good of the team

When Hamlin entered the Media Center, he was asked that very same question. Would he give it up for the sake of JGR’s title hopes?

“I mean, there’s thoughts. The 78 was in the same position last year, asked us — we declined. I mean, to be honest with you, my pit crew is a second slower than Kyle’s. I think everything is earned. Nothing is given,” said Hamlin.

“With us having the No. 1 pit stall, nobody else — none of the other competitors will have it. I don’t know. It’s a discussion.  I mean, certainly I would think that Wheels, with the pressure always to win, you’ve got to do everything you can to win. We’ll have that discussion.”

Well, the discussion was had and a decision was made. Saturday morning, the No. 11 team opted to take the No. 4 pit stall, which has an opening ahead and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney behind. It’s also worth noting that Truex won the 2017 championship from that very same pit box.

But Hamlin’s choosing the fourth stall allowed Busch to claim the No. 1 stall and gain an advantage over the other three title contenders. Should there be a late-race pit stop, that stall could prove to be pivotal in who takes the 2018 championship.

Team owner Joe Gibbs offered an explanation to NBCSN, saying “We all kind of got together as a team and so, what came out of those meetings was this — what we want for Denny is to win this race. That’s important for him and that’s a big deal for us and our sponsor. And then of course the other side of that for our team, we want to win a championship. And so we all kind of meet, we talk all that over, and it’s everybody making a team decision and we felt the best thing for us was we want Denny focused on winning this race. He thinks he can do it, and we think he can do it from that pit box. And at the same team, we want to make a team decision. We’d like to win a championship for Joe Gibbs Racing. That’s part of the complication, the intriguing part of this, but it’s part of the sport.”

In it to win it

But despite the controversial decision, Hamlin’s desire to win Sunday’s race can’t be questioned.

“Once we got knocked out of the playoffs, it was obviously the No. 1 priority within our race team is to try to get a win,” he said. “We’ve had a few shots here lately, between Martinsville and a couple others. I sat behind Kyle for way too long at Martinsville, or else I would have won that race, and so you second-guess yourself, and you think that — being a good teammate — you’ve got to be a good teammate, no doubt about it, but you also — we have a big sponsor on this car. We have a lot of people that work really hard on this car to not give 100 percent, and that’s something that we have to do.”

The champion has won the race at Homestead every year of the elimination era, dating back to 2014. That’s something Hamlin wants to change Sunday night as he faces the longest winless streak of his career.

“The champion has won this race every time? Yeah, every time. So sure, we want to break that streak and hope Kyle finishes second.”

Truex, who qualified third, chose stall No. 7 which will place Ross Chastain ahead and Tanner Berryhill behind. Joey Logano chose stall No. 3 with Timmy Hill ahead and an opening behind. Kevin Harvick, who qualified down in 12th, went with stall No. 39 with J.J. Yeley ahead and David Ragan behind.

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The White Collection

To assemble a collection of cars is not unique. If a collector wants to stand out, the collection is going to have to have a certain—something. The White Collection has that one thing that makes it stand out from other Porsche collections: only one paint color—white.

The carefully curated collection was highlighted in a video from the Porsche Club of America in which Carl Bauer, caretaker of the collection, discusses the finer points of the artfully assembled group. Each detail of the display is taken into account, as if it were the order sheet for a new 911. The arrangement of the cars, signage, even furniture, appear to all be carefully located in a way only a true perfectionist can understand.

At the core of the collection sit three Porsche pinnacle models. A 959Carrera GT, and 918 Spyder sit in the center, surrounded by a row of 911 RS and GT3 RS models. That’s just the tip of this veritable iceberg. In addition to the cars is a library full of Porsche manual, technical drawings, and advertising literature. There are even Porsche bicycles on display.

Grab a snack and prepare to be overwhelmed by the pure-white Porsche bliss. It might just take a moment for your eyes to adjust to the insanity.


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All-Female ‘W’ Racing Series Set for European Launch in 2019

An all-new, female-only racing series has been created with intentions of giving women a widespread platform to prove themselves and move up to motorsport’s top levels.

Named the W Series, this project was conceptualized and resultantly developed by a group of racing professionals including ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard, F1 designer Adrian Newey, former McLaren and Manor team manager Dave Ryan, and journalist Matt Bishop.

The open-wheel league will be free to enter for 18-20 yet unnamed drivers selected by “a rigorous pre-selection process involving on-track testing, simulator appraisal, technical engineering tests, fitness trials etc,” according to a statement from the series. Competitors will be vying for their share of a money pool totaling $1.5 million while the overall champion will earn $500,000. Winnings will be awarded through 18th place in the standings.

Drivers will pilot spec Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 cars, all equipped with identical 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder engines and Sadev six-speed sequential gearboxes. These machines will also be fitted with Halo cockpit safety devices.

In efforts of undercutting planned criticisms for segregating women from their male counterparts, the W Series released the following quote in an official release:

“At the heart of W Series’ DNA is the firm belief that women can compete equally with men in motorsport. However, an all-female series is essential in order to force greater female participation. W Series is, therefore, a mission-driven competition, the aim of which is not only to provide exciting racing for spectators and viewers on a global scale, but also to equip its drivers with the experience and expertise with which they may progress their careers, racing and honing their skills in W Series before eventually graduating to existing high-level mainstream racing series.”

The initial season of competition will take place across Europe with expansion to the Americas, Asia, and Australia planned for the coming years.

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