Motorsport Weekend Recap
Written by the Divebomb Team, Edited by Sasha Macmillen
Italian Grand Prix Review
Written by Marcus Woodhouse
In the midst of Italy, the home of the fabled Tifosi and their love for all things Ferrari, Formula 1 returned to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the 72nd time. Monza holds the record for the number of F1 races there, and for good reason, with its blistering straights and famous corners, it remains a must-have on the calendar every year. And this year, in a season so disappointing for Ferrari, the Tifosi were desperately hoping for one of their drivers to come out on top, and stop the juggernaut that is Max Verstappen this year.
Ferrari seemed to have the superior package on Friday, with Mercedes just behind, while Red Bull once again were possibly not showing their true pace in the practice sessions. Nyck De Vries was given the chance to drive an Aston Martin in FP1 (free practice 1), and it turned out to be more useful than he might have thought. With the unfortunate news that Alex Albon was sidelined with appendicitis, De Vries was back in a Formula 1 car on Saturday, with the whole race weekend to show his worth in a Williams.
Normal running was resumed in FP3 however, as Red Bull turned up the heat on their Italian rivals, and Verstappen took a commanding lead going into qualifying. Of course, with many drivers including himself, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, and Lewis Hamilton taking grid penalties this weekend, the grid was going to be more shaken up than usual, although a greater grid drop for Verstappen in Hungary didn’t seem to hinder him at all in his charge to victory.
There were no major shocks in Q1 (Qualifying 1), as the two Haas cars, the two Aston Martins, and Nicholas Latifi were all eliminated, despite Aston Martin’s impressive pace last weekend and Williams’ expected pace here at Monza. An issue for Tsunoda rendered him unable to set a time in Q2, and he was followed by Zhou Guanyu and the immediately outstanding De Vries. Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon were the others to be eliminated before the final shootout, with the Frenchman receiving a five place grid drop anyway.
Amid all the confusion surrounding the grid penalties and the starting order for the race on Sunday, Q3 was confusing to say the least, but interesting nonetheless. Fernando Alonso was tenth, while Pierre Gasly, the man tipped to replace him, finished a place ahead. The McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were seventh and eighth, but the penalties ahead meant they would fill the second row of the grid on race day. George Russell was out-qualified by his teammate, but still started ahead of him, while Perez, Sainz, and Verstappen were all beaten by the flying Charles Leclerc. Things were looking up for Ferrari and the Tifosi, as they ran their special yellow livery in tribute to 75 years of Ferrari and 100 years of the Monza circuit.
After the grid was finally determined and announced, the teams prepared themselves for lights out, with Leclerc leading Russell from the get-go. A poor start for Lando Norris gave Verstappen a place back, and he was up into the top three by lap four, making short work of Russell a lap later. Sainz was making swift progress, as he had made it into the top ten by lap 6, before finding himself in a DRS (Drag Reduction System) train led by Ricciardo in P4. Smoking brakes for Perez harmed his recovery from a 15 place grid penalty somewhat, while Sainz continued his charge up the field, with a cheer coming from the masses of Tifosi as he overtook Alonso for P7 on Lap 10. He made it up to P5 two laps later, before the VSC (Virtual Safety Car) was deployed due to a sad end to Sebastian Vettel’s final Italian Grand Prix.
Determined to stay ahead of Verstappen, Ferrari rolled the dice and brought Leclerc into the pits under the VSC in order to save time, coming out third behind Russell and crucially Verstappen. The race then settled down a bit, with strategy coming to the forefront and teams trying undercuts to outdo their rivals. Verstappen pitted on Lap 26, leaving Leclerc in the lead but on much older tyres and with only a 10 second cushion. 6 laps later, it was game over for the unlucky Alonso who was once again let down by his Alpine car, putting the ball very much in McLaren’s court for this weekend’s battle for P4 in the Constructors’.
Leclerc then pitted for soft tyres, remaining ahead of Russell but needing to make up a second a lap on the Dutchman out in front, a very challenging goal considering his speed right now. Norris was left stranded after a slow pit stop meant the team’s desire to get him out ahead of Ricciardo and Gasly was ruined, and the rapidly closing Hamilton took no time in capitalising on the kerfuffle ahead, passing not only him but also Gasly in the space of around five seconds. Ricciardo wasn’t ahead for long either, and his race wasn’t improving as his teammate took P7 from him soon after, before Lance Stroll came into the pits to retire for the first time this season.
With ten laps to go, Verstappen still held a comfortable 17 second lead over Leclerc, and he looked to be cruising to a victory in his supposed championship rival’s back garden. However, this lead looked to be in jeopardy when an unfortunate retirement for Ricciardo brought out the Safety Car on Lap 47, allowing the top four to stop for soft tyres in the expectation of a dramatic end to the race. However, a delay for suitable machinery to arrive to remove the stranded McLaren, as well as an inability to sort out the order and allow the lapped cars to unlap themselves, robbed us of what could have been a brilliant end to the race, and we were left wondering if a red flag could have been called earlier, but to the credit of the FIA, they stuck to the rules.
In the end, it was of course the unstoppable Verstappen who took the victory at Monza, followed by Leclerc and Russell, while strong recoveries from Sainz, Hamilton, and Perez rewarded them with solid points finishes. Norris finished 7th once again, ahead of Gasly, and the Driver of the Day Nyck De Vries, who took home 2 points in his debut race, a highly impressive accomplishment that will surely bolster his chances of entering F1 for good next year. Zhou Guanyu rounded out the top ten, with Ocon, Mick Schumacher, Bottas and Tsunoda narrowly missing out on points. Latifi was 15th, beating Kevin Magnussen, while the drivers to retire from the race were Stroll, Alonso and Vettel.
The 2022 Italian Grand Prix was intriguing, as it showed the level of dominance that Red Bull and Max Verstappen have achieved at this stage of the season, annihilating Ferrari at their home race. The Safety Car finish denied us of a race end that could have made up for the oddly dull nature of much of the race, but the atmosphere and the history of this Grand Prix made it worthwhile still. Next race in Singapore could staggeringly be the race in which Verstappen seals the title, as Ferrari’s title challenge has stuttered and stumbled, and surely it is only a matter of time before the mathematics award the Dutchman a back-to-back World Championship title. Ferrari will be left wondering where it all went wrong for them this season.
Formula 2 Monza Review
Written by Vyas Ponnuri
The penultimate round of the season at Monza saw two action-packed races, culminating in two new race winners for the season, and a new champion being crowned. Felipe Drugovich was crowned the 2022 Formula 2 World Champion at the end of an eventful Sprint Race, which saw the Brazilian driver eliminated on lap one itself. Drugovich came into the weekend with a massive 69-point advantage over his closest challenger, Theo Pourchaire. With 78 points available in the final two rounds of the season, one could say that Drugovich had all but won the championship, and being crowned as champion was a mere formality.
However, it was Jack Doohan who set the ball rolling for the weekend, taking pole position in Friday’s Qualifying session, ahead of the two Kiwis Liam Lawson and Marcus Armstrong. Championship leader Drugovich qualified fourth-quickest, ahead of a resurgent Richard Verschoor, and Jehan Daruvala. Red Bull juniors Ayumu Iwasa and Juri Vips were seventh and eighth respectively, with Logan Sargeant and Frederik Vesti rounding out the top ten. Drugovich’s championship rival Pourchaire had managed a lowly 14th on the grid. Although, it was later discovered that Drugovich had set a quicker time under yellow flag conditions in qualifying, and he was slapped with a five-place grid drop for the sprint race. This would see the Brazilian start 12th, instead of his original seventh position start.
Pourchaire’s teammate Frederik Vesti started from pole position for the sprint race, and led the field off the five red lights. Sargeant bogged down at the start, allowing Vips and Iwasa to move up to second and third respectively. Not long into the first lap, the Safety Car was called out, due to Tatiana Calderon and Olli Caldwell having an incident at the Rettifilo chicane. Further ahead, Drugovich was squeezed out at the exit of Turn five, as he tried to overtake Amaury Cordeel’s red and black Van Amersfoort Racing (VAR) car. He made contact with the Belgian driver, damaging the front-right suspension. He made it back to the pit lane, and became the first retirement of the race. The safety car came in on Lap four, and Vips wasted no time, taking the lead from Vesti by making a bold overtake into Turn one. Further back, Sargeant made amends for his poor start, passing Daruvala into Turn One. He could hold off the Indian driver for five laps, though, as Daruvala breezed past on lap nine. Meanwhile, Drugovich’s teammate Clement Novalak too retired from the race after making contact with Ralph Boschung going into Turn four. The most exciting moment of the race saw Lawson battling with the VAR drivers, David Beckmann and Cordeel for ninth place. Pourchaire moved up to 11th after a close overtake on Cordeel, and was stuck behind Liam Lawson for a considerable period of time.
Pourchaire’s slim championship hopes would take a further hit, with an off-track excursion on lap 14 after a failed overtake attempt on Lawson, undoing all his hard work. He dropped to 17th, and last place. Vips took the chequered flag by just over a second from Vesti, and Daruvala took an important podium finish. He was followed by Sargeant in fourth, and Verschoor who took a fine fifth place finish for Trident. Armstrong’s five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage dropped him from sixth to tenth, with Lawson, Doohan and Beckmann rounding out the points.
Pourchaire’s lowly 17th place finish meant that he could no longer challenge Drugovich for the title, leading to celebrations in the MP Motorsport camp. If anything, the sprint race gave us a trailer of what was to come for the feature race on Sunday.
Sunday’s feature race was held in bright, sunny conditions, with no hint of rain. Jack Doohan started from pole position in his blue Virtuosi car, alongside Carlin driver Lawson and Hitech GP driver Armstrong. Newly-crowned champion Drugovich started fourth. Things didn't go well at the start for the pole-sitter Doohan though, as he had a very slow start, dropping to eighth by the first chicane. Lawson moved into the lead, closely followed by Drugovich and Armstrong. At the back, Ralph Boschung was forced onto the run-off area at the first chicane. He rejoined the track, and made contact with Pourchaire, sending the Frenchman into a spin, with Boschung himself going into the barrier on the outside. Pourchaire was hit by Luca Ghiotto, and both drivers went into the barrier too. Olli Caldwell was involved in the incident too. Further ahead, Doohan was caught out by the drivers in front braking for Turn four. He was launched over the rear right tyre of Daruvala’s car, and went into the path of Sargeant, taking both drivers out of the race. With plenty of debris, and cars scattered by the sides of the track, the Safety Car (SC) was called out. Daruvala’s teammate Dennis Hauger was given a drive-through penalty for not having the tyres fitted by the 15-minute interval before the race.
It took a few laps to clear the debris, but all looked to be well when green flag running resumed on lap six. Armstrong immediately made a move, overtaking Drugovich into Turn One. A lap later, his teammate Vips also made a similar move on Richard Verschoor. The SC was called out once again at the end of the lap, when Calan Williams made contact while battling VAR driver Cordeel, and spun into the barrier at the Ascari chicane. Armstrong took advantage of the opportunity and dived into the pits very late, even locking up his tyres at the entry. He lost positions to Daruvala and Iwasa, though, with a slow stop. A lap later, Lawson, Drugovich, Vips and Beckmann too came in to make their mandatory pit stop for the race. While the others switched to medium compound tyres, Drugovich, who had started on the mediums, changed onto the soft compound tyres. He would have to pull off a massive stint on the softs in order to finish in the points.
With the barrier requiring repairs, the race was red-flagged. Verschoor and Marino Sato were the only drivers yet to make a mandatory pit stop, as per the rules. Ten minutes later, the race restarted with both drivers leading the way. Verschoor was on the same medium tyres which he had started the race with, and Sato was on the faster soft tyres. Daruvala in third held the net lead of the race, ahead of Iwasa, Armstrong, and Frederik Vesti, the quartet having made their mandatory pit stops.
Armstrong’s adventurous late dive into the pit lane, which saw him rejoin beyond the bollard placed at the pit entry, saw him fall foul of the stewards, earning a ten-second stop-go penalty. He would go on to receive another such penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He took to the pit lane to serve his penalty on lap 13. This put Iwasa in fourth, but Vesti made a move to overtake the Japanese driver into Turn One, taking away fourth place. A lap later, Vips made contact while attempting to overtake Lawson at the Della Roggia chicane, and spun Lawson around, damaging the Carlin driver’s front wing. The stewards found Vips guilty, and Vips received a ten-second stop-go penalty for the incident. This dropped him out of the points, and only a couple of places behind his teammate Armstrong.
Back at the front, Daruvala and Vesti had moved past Sato on lap 18, into second and third respectively. Sato made his mandatory pit stop soon after. Verschoor finally made his mandatory pit stop at the end of lap 25, promoting Daruvala into the lead, with Vesti on his tail. Iwasa inherited third ahead of Enzo Fittipaldi, who had made his way up from 15th on the grid to fourth, and Daruvala’s teammate Hauger. Cordeel had an excursion into the gravel trap at the second Lesmo corner, allowing Drugovich to breeze past the VAR driver into Turn one on lap 27.
Vesti’s challenge faded away in the final laps, and Daruvala, who had kept his head when many others lost theirs, took the chequered flag at the end of Lap 30, for his long-awaited first win of the season. He finished 1.9 seconds ahead of Vesti, who capped off a brilliant weekend with another runners-up spot. Iwasa held off Fittipaldi to take third, but his joy would be short-lived as he was disqualified after the post-race inspection found the wooden plank on his car to have been worn excessively. Fittipaldi inherited an important podium finish, ahead of Hauger, with Beckmann taking a splendid fifth for VAR. He led home Drugovich, who took a fine sixth, ahead of Cordeel, and Drugovich’s teammate Clement Novalak, with Verschoor taking a solid ninth place for Trident, and Vips rounding out the top ten.
Although Drugovich has sealed the drivers championship with a round to go, the battle for second in the championship rages on between Pourchaire and Logan Sargeant. The American driver is 29 points behind Pourchaire, and has a chance of overhauling the Frenchman with a strong performance in Abu Dhabi. While the chances of this are fading, too, the battle for third in the standings rages on even further, with seven drivers still in with a chance to finish third. In the teams championship, it is level pegging heading into the final round of the season, as MP Motorsport and ART Grand Prix head into the season finale level on points. Carlin are in with a shout of winning too, 23 points behind the leading duo.
Do make sure to tune in for the season finale at Abu Dhabi, which starts on 16th November, 2022, to find out who will be crowned champions in the teams’ standings.
IndyCar Season Finale Review
Written by Danny Jones
The championship title was on the line coming into Round 17 and the final round of the 2022 IndyCar Series, as Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Marcus Ericsson and Scott McLaughlin attempted to chase down Will Power’s championship lead in the Monterey Peninsula at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Power came in with a 20 point advantage over both Newgarden and Dixon, and although both Ericsson and McLaughlin were in mathematical contention, their hopes both relied on a DNF for Power.
And the championship drama would begin in qualifying. Newgarden went too aggressive on the approach to The Corkscrew, spun the car and beached, causing the Red Flag. This meant Newgarden would have to line up on the final row for Sunday’s race, with the drama not stopping there for the championship contenders, with Scott Dixon knocked out in Group 1, and would have to challenge from 13th.
Things would only get better for Power, as he claimed pole position, breaking Mario Andretti’s illustrious pole record, and even more importantly, claimed the extra championship point. He would line up alongside Callum Ilott who starred once again, putting his Juncos in P2, with the Andretti’s of Romain Grosjean and Alexander Rossi completing row 2.
Power led the field the green, leading the first lap, meaning the Australian picked up another championship point, ahead of Rossi and Pato O’Ward, who climbed from 5th to 3rd at the Andretti Hairpin.
The race settled into its rhythm, with Power pitting for blacks on lap 15, with Alex Palou, who started 11th after an engine penalty, the man on the move, due to his switch to reds, and duly overtook Power on lap 27.
Also on the move was Josef Newgarden, who had progressed to the top 10 by Lap 30, and on the favourable strategy, whist other championship contender, Dixon, struggled in the midfield.
The first caution was flown at Lap 38, where Callum Ilott, who impressively was running in the Top 5, pulled over at pitlane exit with a mechanical failure. This gave all drivers a key opportunity to pit, with Palou switching to blacks, who was followed by Power and Newgarden.
Newgarden continued his surge forward, overtaking O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Power all at the Corkscrew, and only had Palou in his sights for the win he desperately needed, with 50 laps to chase him down.
However, Newgarden’s red tyres would not take him to the end of the race, and he pitted on lap 73, coming out just ahead of Power, but had a 25 second lead to close down in 20 laps, a task which would prove too difficult.
Palou came home to round off a dominant victory, 30 seconds clear of the pack, to finally claim a win in 2022, at the last time of asking. Newgarden rounded off an exceptional comeback performance to finish P2, but it was Will Power who came 3rd to secure his second NTT IndyCar Series title, in a season where he proved that consistency and experience was so vital in IndyCar.
Power rounded off the season 16 points ahead of closest challenger, Newgarden, with the Australian picking up 9 podiums in 17 races, with three bonus 4th place finishes to boot. Dixon and McLaughlin would finish 3rd and 4th, with Palou’s victory boosting him to 5th ahead of Ericsson and O’Ward. Felix Rosenqvist would finish 8th in a much improved season for the Swede, with Andretti’s Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta finishing 9th and 10th, in what could be Herta’s final IndyCar race for the foreseeable future as an F1 move looms closer.
Christian Lundgaard finished P5 in Laguna Seca to claim the Rookie of the Year prize ahead of an equally as impressive David Malukas. Once again, IndyCar has not failed to disappoint us with another excellent season of racing, from Josef Newgarden’s last corner pass to take victory in Texas, to Marcus Ericsson and Pato O’Ward finding themselves side-by-side on the final lap of the Indianapolis 500, or Colton Herta’s ridiculous save in the Indy GP (I’m still thinking about it now), and a crushing display to claim victory, the NTT IndyCar Series once again makes its claim to being the most competitive single-seater series on the planet.
However, that is all for 2022, we hope to see you at St. Petersburg in early March to kick off the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series, with DIVEBOMB bringing you any breaking news between now and then.
WRC Review: Rally Greece
Written by Apostolos Papageorgiou
After four days rallying in gruelling, hot conditions, the Acropolis Rally has come to an end. The second running of the event in its current form can and should be considered a success by fans and organisers alike, not only operationally, but also thanks to the incredible action that took place in the Greek mountains.
After a one-two in shakedown, Hyundai went on to repeat the feat in the super special stage at the Olympic Stadium, Thierry Neuville fastest, with WRC2’s Teemu Sunninen in a surprising second. Everyone, besides Andreas Mikkelsen, who smashed his front suspension, got through drama free.
Friday was the first true test for the cars and the drivers. From the off it was clear just how big a disadvantage starting first was, with runaway leader Kalle Rovanperä losing over a minute. His main rival Ott Tänak fared a bit better in sixth, but the big news was the M-Sport domination from Sebastien Loeb and Pierre-Louis Loubet, who briefly led. It wasn’t all perfect for the team however, Craig Breen losing two minutes with a puncture.
But it all unravelled on Saturday for the British team. Loubet lost over 20 seconds to Neuville, falling to third and losing another minute and four more places. While Loeb was holding on, his car gave up on him after stage eight and he had to retire. That left a Hyundai one-two at the front, Neuville leading Tänak. Stage nine also saw Rovanperä make his second mistake in as many rallies, sliding wide into a tree and wrecking the rear of his car.
It slowly became a rally to forget for Toyota, as Esapekka Lappi, who was the only one close to the Fords on Friday, suffered a mechanical problem and was also forced to retire. This Left a Korean one-two-three, with the returning Dani Sordo in third and the other two unchanged. The two surviving Fords of Breen and Loubet, Gus Greensmith retiring with mechanical issues during the day, were sixth and fifth respectively, despite a small off for the Frenchman.
The order looked settled on Sunday, with only the battle for the final podium spot still being up for grabs. But, cruelly, on the road section, Elfyn Evans, the sole remaining factory Toyota, ground to a halt on the road section, with just three stages to the finish. This lifted the two M-Sport cars up a place each, as well as Takamoto Katsuta, who despite being off the pace brought home a good result.
Nobody could stop Hyundai however, taking not only their first win in Greece, but also their first ever podium lockout, all the while closing the gap to Toyota to 63 points. Tänak also closed to within 53 points of Rovanperä, after the Finn’s no show. With just three rounds to go, both championships could still be up for grabs after all.
One that definitely isn’t is the Junior WRC one, with Robert Virves taking the spoils. Emil Lindhold managed to score his second win in two rounds in the WRC2, while a special mention must go to Alexandros Tsouloftas, the Cyprian making it to the podium.
WEC Review: 6 hours of Fuji
Written by Evan Veer
Toyota once again enjoyed a great home race at Fuji, dominating both qualifying and the race to take a 1-2 finish and their 8th win out of the past 9 races held here. Neither of the Peugeots really had a competitive weekend as both cars suffered technical problems during the race, though they definitely did show promising pace during certain stages of the race.
The long straight at Fuji also revealed that the Peugeot is vulnerable to porpoising as a result of its reliance on underbody downforce similar to the current F1 cars.
After this race the #8 Toyota and the #36 Alpine are now level on points going into the final race at Bahrain.
The #31 WRT ended up winning in LMP2 after beating out the #38 JOTA on fuel strategy while the #28 JOTA came third. Many of the LMP2 teams were caught short on fuel near the end of the race thanks to the absence of safety cars and full course yellows which would have helped the teams save fuel. The race as a whole was surprisingly clean with remarkably few yellows being thrown throughout.
GTE-PRO was won with a 1-2 for the AF Corse Ferraris followed by the two porsches and the corvette respectively. This result lifted Ferrari into the lead of the Constructors championship by just a single point over Porsche. This means that if any of these manufacturer’s cars manages to win at Bahrain they will also win the title regardless of where the other cars end up. These same teams had a very similar situation last season which ended up in a highly controversial race as the #51 Ferrari made contact with the leading #92 Porsche with just a few minutes to go which, after some controversial decisions from race control, lead to the #51 winning the race and both championships.
GTE-AM saw an impressive performance from the #33 TF Sport Aston Martin taking the win as well as yet another pole, their driver Ben Keating taking five of the last 11 poles as the only driver to get multiple GTE-AM pole positions since the change in qualifying last season. With a solid 20 point lead they are certainly the favourites for the championship, but in racing there are no guarantees, especially in endurance. Another impressive showing came from the #85 Iron Dames Ferrari with their second consecutive P2, while third place went to the Aston Martin of D’Station Racing.