There was no Formula 1 this weekend but there were plenty of that series’ names in action as the inaugural Formula E race kicked off in Beijing. Formula E is an FIA-sanctioned open-wheel category of pure electric racecars – they run on street circuits in major cities around the world.
F1 refugee Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost (son of Alain) were battling for the lead on the final lap when Prost chopped across Heidfeld, sending the German into the air and then into the barrier. Heidfeld impacted the barrier roll-hoop first and was launched into the air before landing with a sickening thud. The controversial crash handed victory to another driver familiar to F1 fans – Lucas di Grassi. The crash was at once a testament to the safety of the all-new FE chassis and a sad indictment of the driving standards of the series.
There might be a new phenomenon scything a path through MotoGP right now, but seven-time top-class champion Valentino Rossi isn’t ready to roll over and play dead yet. The Doctor used to be untouchable at his home race in Misano but it’s been a long time between drinks for the world’s most popular rider. All that changed on Sunday though when Valentino Rossi took a wildly popular victory ahead of teammate Jorge Lorenzo and Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Marc Marquez, who had won 11 of the first 12 races this season, crashed while chasing Rossi down and finished 15th. Rossi’s win gave him a boost in the battle for second in the championship.
In V8 Supercars Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell combined to win their second-straight Sandown 500 endurance race, but not before a monster shunt for Lee Holdsworth, whose AMG Mercedes had a failure in the rear end and launched full-speed into the tire wall. Thankfully Holdsworth was okay.
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V8 Supercars suffered some bad PR this week (more on that later) but were rescued by the news that NASCAR driver and former dual V8 champion Marcos Ambrose would be returning to Australia to drive for American legend Roger Penske in a partnership with iconic Aussie squad, Dick Johnson Racing.
NASCAR’s all-new Chase for the Sprint Cup kicked off yesterday and was claimed by Brad Keselowski, who last won the opening race of the Chase in his title-winning year. The all-new system sees four elimination rounds, with the first four drivers dropped out after three races, then the following four, until the final race of the year sees four drivers with an equal chance of winning the title. Whichever driver finishes highest in the field in the season finale clinches the championship. Keselowski is guaranteed entry into the second round with his hard-fought victory.
A hat tip to Formula E for getting the world’s first ever world-class race for electric vehicles in the books. Sure, the drivers had to jump out halfway and swap cars (because range anxiety), and sure there was a bit of idiocy out on track, but this is a monumental effort to launch the new era of motor racing, and Formula E deserves credit.
The series is a close second this week, though, and it’s Valentino Rossi who scores our green flag. Rossi’s last victory came at Assen in June of 2013, and his last home win in 2009. Rossi is now the only rider to amass more than 5,000 championship points and this was his 107th career win. Most importantly, it cements his newfound dominance over teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Bravo Valentino.
Nicolas Prost is a second-generation driver whose father was a legend of Formula 1. He himself is a young gun desperate to make a name. Perhaps that’s why after looking in his right mirror and finding it empty, he chopped hard to the right on the penultimate corner of the inaugural Formula E race. Sure, he’d been leading, and sure, he knew that Heidfeld would make a dive for the win, but the savage chop was reckless and amateur. Prost and Heidfeld are both lucky that the German was not hurt, especially as Heidfeld’s car rotated and impacted the wall roll-hoop first.
On the bright side, you can expect passing Prost to be a bit easier for the next few races…
Sometimes motorsport is just plain mean-spirited. Anyone who enjoyed/s CART or IndyCar will tell you that the inter-category wars can get brutal. So we shouldn’t really be surprised that a rising-star event has been dealt a blow by a larger and more powerful series. The Bathurst 12 Hour has been enjoying stellar growth of late with the race around the legendary Bathurst circuit attracting not only big-name GT teams from around the world, but also big-name V8 Supercars stars.
In what can only be described as a petty, petulant and puerile fit of pique, V8 Supercars has decided to schedule a mandatory, two-day, preseason test for the same date as the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour, robbing fans of the chance to see their heroes take on some of the world’s best at home.
It’s disgraceful behaviour from the category that should (and has in the past) carried the torch for motorsport in the Asia-Pacific. As a vocal advocate for V8 Supercars I’m embarrassed to see them act this way. V8 Supercars should be embarrassed, too. This is pathetic.