Job done, Mercedes team boss to skip Brazilian GP
With both championships secured for a sixth consecutive year, technical director James Allison will be the most senior team member at the track in the absence of Toto Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff will miss Sunday’s Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix, making it the first race he has not attended since 2013, now that his team has won both Formula One championships for an unprecedented sixth consecutive year.
A Mercedes spokesperson said technical director James Allison will be the most senior team member at the track in the Austrian’s absence.
“With both championships secured, it gives me more time in Europe to focus on other open topics,” Wolff said in a team preview of the season’s penultimate race at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos track.
“It’s great to be able to do this and to know that the team will represent the three-pointed star in the best way possible both on and off the track.”
Lewis Hamilton won his sixth world championship when he finished second to teammate Valtteri Bottas in Austin, Texas, on November 3 after the team sealed the constructors’ championship in Japan on October 13.
Mercedes have dominated the V6 turbo-hybrid era that started in 2014 and have won 14 of this season’s 19 races so far — Hamilton 10 of them.
The Briton has 83 career wins and is closing in on Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91. The 34-year-old won in Brazil last year, while Mercedes wrapped up the constructors’ championship there.
With both titles secure, and the top three positions in the constructors’ standings locked in, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will also be using the last two races to test ideas for next season.
“Despite this record-breaking achievement, I still feel a lot of hunger and desire for more achievements,” Wolff said.
“There’s no sense of complacency, everybody is still determined to keep on improving … we have two races to go in the 2019 season and we want to end this season on a high.”
Hansen crowned world Rallycross champion in Cape Town
Sweden’s Timmy Hansen was crowned the FIA World Rallycross Champion over Andreas Bakkerud at the Sabat World Rallycross of SA at Killarney International Raceway on Sunday.
In the season finale the two rivals ended on even points after 60 races in ten countries on four continents in 2019.
Hansen (Peugeot) arrived in Cape Town just a single world championship point clear of Norwegian title rival Bakkerud (Audi).
Bakkerus won Sunday’s first semifinal but Hansen won the second, leaving him two points clear of his main rival.
That left the final with eight points up for grabs, and it was a thriller. Bakkerud took the holeshot off the line, before Hansen, pushing hard to overtake, clipped the Norwegian and spun into the wall. However, with Niclas Grönholm taking the lead to deny Bakkerud the race win and Hansen managing to get back on track to finish in fourth place, the two rivals finished the season tied on 211 points each.
Hansen won his first-yet World RX championship on countback, having won four races this season compared with Bakkerud’s one.
“It sounds fantastic — almost unreal that you call me world champion,” Timmy Hansen responded to a question on his taking the title.
“I am super happy for the sport. The last race with everything on the line was nerve wracking, but I kept focussing and delivered a strong performance race by race through the weekend. There was no room for error, not [for] the smallest mistake.”
In the supporting RX2 race, Swede Oliver Eriksson delivered a dominant victory over Jamaican Fraser McConnell and Sami-Matti Trogen, to wrap up that title over Ben-Philip Gundersen.
Hyundai bags WRC manufacturers’ title
Hyundai were confirmed winners of the World Rally Championship’s manufacturers’ title after the season-ending Rally of Australia was cancelled on Tuesday due to the threat of bushfires.
Organisers had planned to run the November 14-17 event at Coffs Harbour in eastern New South Wales state with a dramatically shorter route but decided the risks were too high for the more than 1,000 officials, competitors and support personnel.
“Considering the best interests and safety of everyone involved in the rally, and of course the wider community, it is not appropriate to conduct the rally,” Rally of Australia event chair Andrew Papadopoulos said.
“Our thoughts are with the NSW community, especially the people who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes as a result of the fires in northern NSW, and we thank the rally community for your support and understanding.”
Hyundai, who held an 18-point lead over defending champions Toyota after the penultimate round in Spain, claim their first manufacturers’ title in the global series.
Defending manufacturers’ champions Toyota were second, with Citroën in third.
“First of all our thoughts are with all those affected by the devastating bushfires in the New South Wales region of Australia and elsewhere,” Scott Noh, president of Hyundai Motorsport, said.
“We are immensely proud to secure our first ever … manufacturers’ title after a highly competitive season against tough opposition. We hope, too, that it will be the first of many more to come in the future.”
Toyota’s Estonian driver Ott Tanak already secured the drivers’ championship in the previous round. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville is second and defending champion Sébastien Ogier third.