Sandton streets to buzz with Formula One action
Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault will be part of an F1 fan festival in March
Formula One is teaming up with Heineken to bring an immersive fan festival to Johannesburg on March 29 2020.
The Heineken F1 Joburg Festival, in partnership with Gauteng province, will treat fans to car runs featuring three F1 teams in Sandton.
The festival will give fans the chance to see 2019 Formula 1 World Championship runner-up Valtteri Bottas and former F1 driver David Coulthard tear through the streets of the suburb as they bring the Grand Prix atmosphere to the heart of the city.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Renault F1 teams will be in action. The day’s fun-filled activities will include a fan zone featuring interactive activations, such as the “DHL e-sports Challenge” and the “Pirelli Pit-Stop Challenge”, with spectacular car displays including supercars, SA Karting, F1600 and historic single-seaters.
SA’s former Formula 1 World Championship winner Jody Scheckter will also make a rare appearance in his 1979 title-clinching Ferrari.
Scheckter, president of SA Grand Prix, said: “I am very excited to be involved in what promises to be an amazing spectacle on the streets of Joburg. SA has a long history with F1 and the festival will provide a chance for fans to get up close and personal with the sport.”
The Heineken F1 Joburg Festival will be broadcast live on SuperSport. It will feature track activity from 1.30pm, with the main F1 car run starting at 3.30pm and live music from 5pm until the event closes at 8pm.
Tickets, which range from R60 for general admission, are available from Computicket.
Vinales set MotoGP pace in Qatar test
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha) ended the Qatar preseason MotoGP test with the fastest laptime with 1 min 53.858 on the third and final day in Doha on Monday.
The Spaniard pipped Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) to top spot by just 0.033 after the three days, with the top 18 split by less than a second. Fellow Petronas Yamaha SRT rider Fabio Quartararo finished third fastest on the combined times.
SA’s Brad Binder, the former Moto3 champion making his MotoGP debut in 2020, posted the ninth fastest time on his Red Bull KTM, 0.425 off the fastest lap. He finished just two positions behind world champion Marc Marquez on a Repsol Honda, and ahead of multiple champion Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha), who ended the three-day test 12th quickest.
Alex Marquez, who narrowly beat Binder to 2019’s Moto2 championship, was 21st fastest on his Repsol Honda.
Though MotoGP world champions Honda struggled, it was a great test for Yamaha, which set the three fastest laptimes, but there will be slight worry that Quartararo suffered technical failures on Sunday and Monday, in addition to Rossi’s crash on the final day. “The Doctor” was uninjured and ventured back out during the last hour of the test.
It was also a good test for Suzuki, which set the fourth and sixth quickest times.
Jack Miller on the Pramac Racing Ducati posted the fastest top speed at the Losail International Circuit at a stunning 355km/h.
Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest of the factory Ducati riders in 10th place, and team manager Davide Tardozzi said the engine is working well but cornering still needs work.
The MotoGP season starts in Qatar on March 8.
- Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha) — 1:53.858
- Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +0.033
- Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.180
- Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.210
- Jack Miller (Pramac Racing Ducati) +0.247
- Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.271
- Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) +0.291
- Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +0.381
- Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory) +0.425
- Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) +0.454
- Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing Ducati) 1:54.326 +0.468
- Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) 1:54.332 +0.474
- Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Gresini) 1:54.432 +0.574
- Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factyory) 1:54.623 +0.765
- Tito Rabat (Avintia Ducati) 1:54.674 +0.816
- Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) 1:54.752 +0.894
- Johann Zarco (Avintia Ducati) 1:54.760 +0.902
- Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) 1:54.830 +0.972
- Miguel Oliveira (Tech3 KTM) 1:55.008 +1.150
- Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM) 1:55.301 +1.443
- Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda) 1:55.519 +1.661
- Bradley Smith (Aprilia Gresini) 1:55.916 +2.058
Mercedes steering wheel to be outlawed next season
Formula One’s governing body has moved to ban for 2021 an ingenious new Mercedes steering wheel that has been the talk of preseason testing and could boost Lewis Hamilton’s chances of a record-equalling seventh title.
Race director Michael Masi pointed to a change in the technical regulations, published at the end of 2019, that effectively ruled out future use of the DAS (dual-axis steering) system.
The DAS allows a driver to change the toe angle of the front wheels into corners and on the straights by pushing and pulling on the steering wheel, rather than just moving it sideways.
Mercedes technical director James Allison said last Thursday, when DAS made its track debut, that the system had come as no surprise to the FIA, who had been kept informed along the way.
That observation suggested the rule change had been triggered by awareness on the governing body’s part that the sport’s dominant team had found a potentially game-changing loophole in the rules.
Whether that was the case, and how quickly rivals might be able to copy it and whether they might protest after the opening race, remained lively topics of conversation.
“I think we need to first obviously understand how it works and understand what would be the performance benefit,” said Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto. “I don’t think that at the moment we’ve got any idea.”
Binotto conceded, however, that if Ferrari did want to do something similar it would likely take them until midseason to introduce it.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas used the system when he set the fastest lap of last week’s preseason test at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya.
Mercedes have won the past six drivers’ and constructors’ championships and Hamilton will be seeking to equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record seven.
Locally built Ford Ranger moves up into FIA class
The Ford Castrol Cross Country Team that competes in Class T Production Vehicles in the SA Cross Country Series (SACCS) has announced it is moving up a class in 2020.
The 2019 champion team is stepping up to the premier off-road class in the new FIA class of the Production Vehicle category using an all-new, locally built racing Ranger powered by a more advanced 3.5l V6 EcoBoost twin-turbocharged petrol engine in place of the Ford Mustang-derived 5.0l V8 in last season’s cars. This new FIA class is in effect the playing ground of Dakar spec cars.
“Having enjoyed great success in Class T over the last two years, it’s time for us to take on a new challenge in the FIA class, which has grown rapidly to become the most popular and competitive field in the South African championship, and in international cross country racing,” says team principal Neil Woolridge.
The FIA has also confirmed that Ford and Neil Woolridge Motorsport will be the first in the world to enter cross country racing in its current form with a turbocharged petrol engine.
Woolridge builds the cross country racing Ford Ranger globally for privateer teams.