THE MOTORSPORT LAP
SA racer wins his fifth world karting championship
Veteran Cristiano Morgado beats off close competition
Durban’s veteran kart racer Cristiano Morgado won the 2018 Rotax DD2 Masters Grand Final world championship in Conde-Paraiba, Brazil on Saturday.
The 39-year-old started from pole position in the final after a week-long round of elimination races, and led from green light to chequered flag in energy-sapping hot conditions. He was hounded throughout the 20-lap final, initially by fellow South African Michael Stephen of Port Elizabeth, and then by Antti Ollikainen of Finland and Fraser Hart of New Zealand. Stephen finished in a close fifth place behind Matthew Hamilton of New Zealand and the top five were covered by just five seconds.
Morgado’s win was a record-making fifth world championship karting title in the annual Rotax Grand Finals, which were first held in Puerto Rico in 2000. That event was won by another South African, Gavin Cronje, and Morgado’s latest win brings the victory tally of South Africans in this international series to 13.
Morgado won his first Rotax world title in 2003 and was the World DD2 Masters Champion in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
An emotional Morgado dedicated the victory to his father Rui, who has supported him in his racing career for more than three decades. Apart from karting, Morgado has competed at the top level of single-seater racing in Europe and in 2006 finished second in the British Formula Three Championship.
In the DD2 Gearbox class for younger drivers (aged 15 and over) Vereeniging’s Arnold Neveling scored fourth place.
Michael Schumacher’s 19-year-old son Mick has moved a step closer to following his father into Formula One after the Prema team announced he will race for them in Formula Two next season.
The series feeds into F1, and 2018’s top three finishers — George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon — have all secured seats with F1 teams for 2019.
The young Schumacher won the Formula Three European championship in 2018 with eight wins, seven pole positions and 14 podium finishes.
“He is an extremely talented and dedicated racer. Working with him is a pleasure and we can’t wait to begin this adventure together,” said Rene Rosin, principal of the Mercedes-powered team.
The young German said the move was “a logical step” on the ladder and would help him improve his skills and gain more experience.
Five times F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton said in October he expected Schumacher to go all the way.
“There will 100% be a Schumacher back in Formula One, partly because of the name, but secondly because he’s doing a great job,” the Mercedes driver said then.
Michael Schumacher won a record seven F1 championships, including five in a row with Ferrari, and also holds the record for race wins with 91.
The 49-year-old, whose privacy is closely guarded, has not been seen in public since he suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident in France in December 2013.
The Force India name will disappear from F1 next season, after 11 years of competition, with the British-based team entered as Racing Point F1 on a list published by the governing FIA.
The team, which became Force India in 2008 after Indian beer baron Vijay Mallya bought Spyker F1, were taken over in August by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll after going into administration.
They then competed in the second part of the 2018 season as a new Racing Point Force India team to distinguish them from the defunct Sahara Force India co-owned by Mallya and India’s Sahara Group.
The team’s 2019 drivers will be Mexican Sergio Perez and Stroll’s son Lance.
Ferrari’s official team name also changes to Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow and Haas becomes Rich Energy Haas F1 team to reflect sponsorship arrangements.
The 2019 entry list also revealed that Formula Two champion George Russell will race for Williams while rookie Norris fills Fernando Alonso’s vacant seat at McLaren.
Polish driver Robert Kubica, returning from an eight-year absence after a near-fatal rally accident in 2011, will race for Williams.
Thailand’s Alexander Albon debuts at Toro Rosso, alongside Daniil Kvyat, who returns after being axed a year ago.
The F1 driver line up for 2019:
MERCEDES: Lewis Hamilton (Britain), Valtteri Bottas (Finland)
FERRARI: Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Charles Leclerc (Monaco)
RED BULL: Max Verstappen (Netherlands), Pierre Gasly (France)
RENAULT: Nico Hulkenberg (Germany), Daniel Ricciardo (Australia)
HAAS: Kevin Magnussen (Denmark), Romain Grosjean (France)
MCLAREN: Carlos Sainz (Spain), Lando Norris (Britain)
FORCE INDIA: Sergio Perez (Mexico), Lance Stroll (Canada)
SAUBER: Kimi Raikkonen (Finland), Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy)
TORO ROSSO: Daniil Kvyat (Russia), Alexander Albon (Thailand)
WILLIAMS: George Russell (Britain), Robert Kubica (Poland)