FR3.5 Review – Fortec Motorsports: Rowland’s Decisive Qualifying Edge

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Fortec Motorsports once again put on a strong campaign in Formula Renault 3.5 this season. Having seen the likes of Alexander Rossi, Robin Frijns, and Stoffel Vandoorne walk through their paddock as series rookies and immediately put on stellar performances, the team were once again expected to impress after bringing in the Racing Steps Foundation’s top prospect Oliver Rowland to partner second-year driver and current Sauber F1 Team reserve, Sergey Sirotkin.

Carlos Sainz‘s dominance and a smattering of untimely DNFs throughout the season ultimately squashed any chance of either Fortec driver being able to post a serious championship challenge the way that Vandoorne did last season by finishing 2nd to Kevin Magnussen, or Frijns the year before when he won the whole thing. But Fortec just missed out on the Team Championship by three points to DAMS, who accumulated over two-thirds of their points from Sainz’s championship campaign. That’s a testament to a strong organization with two very capable drivers that were, for the most part, very evenly matched. During a qualifying session at Moscow Raceway, Rowland, who finished fourth in the championship, and Sirotkin, who was fifth, were separated in qualifying by just one one-thousandth of a second. The smallest quantifiable margin you could get.

One driver, however, did prove to be decisively more successful than the other in at least one area. I’ll explain. Continue reading “FR3.5 Review – Fortec Motorsports: Rowland’s Decisive Qualifying Edge”

Carlos Sainz Jr. Is Ready For F1’s Big Stage

The news that Spanish Red Bull junior driver Carlos Sainz Jr., the son of the legendary former World Rally Champion of the same name, could be brought into Formula 1 via the Caterham F1 team as early as sometime later in 2014, is one of the early talking points of an F1 Silly Season that has yet to really take shape, at least not until we get to the mid-season summer break in-between the Hungarian and Belgian Formula One Grands Prix.

A mid-2014 promotion to Caterham for the 19-year-old Sainz would replicate the Formula 1 arrival of Daniel Ricciardo, whose first drive did not come with Red Bull’s “junior squad” Scuderia Toro Rosso, but with bottom-ranked Hispania Racing Team, where he participated in the final 11 of 19 rounds of the 2011 season with the backmarker organization. There, without any real pressure to score points right off the bat, he had a capable benchmark in another former Red Bull junior driver, Vitantonio Liuzzi (save for the Indian GP where Narain Karthikeyan was subbed in for Liuzzi), and Ricciardo performed admirably given the experience gap between himself, a rookie fresh out of Formula Renault 3.5 Series, and the tandem of veteran drivers who had made their F1 debuts six years earlier. Sainz would be in a similar predicament, as the Caterham team and their CT05 chassis ranks dead last among all eleven Formula 1 teams in terms of raw pace, and they are unlikely to score their first championship points this year unless there is a repeat of the attrition-packed Monaco Grand Prix from this May. In an interesting tie-in to the Ricciardo scenario from three years ago, Caterham was just sold before the British Grand Prix to a consortium of businessmen that included Colin Kolles, who ran HRT back in 2011.

So what exactly does the heir to the Sainz racing legacy bring to the table? Continue reading “Carlos Sainz Jr. Is Ready For F1’s Big Stage”