Turkish Grand Prix Preview

turkeymainRound seven of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Formula One circus to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix. The 58-lap race takes place at the 5.338km (3.317mile) Istanbul Park circuit, which is one of only two anti-clockwise tracks on this year’s calendar.

Istanbul Park is located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, the transverse channel that links the Mediterranean with the Black Sea, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the centre of Istanbul. The undulating topography upon which the track was built in 2005 has helped to create one of the most technically challenging racetracks in the world, and also one of the most physical for the drivers.

A unique feature of the Turkish Grand Prix is the means by which the teams’ transporters travel to and from the race. Along with the rest of the teams’ freight, they were shipped by sea from Trieste in Italy on Wednesday and are due to arrive at the port of Istanbul over the weekend.

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Turkey

Vital Statistics:

  • Date: 07/06/09
  • Circuit Length: 5.338km
  • Race Distance: 309.396km (58 laps)
  • Winner 2008: Felipe Massa – Ferrari

Circuit Guide

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9M4iqUwb-Q&feature=PlayList&p=62A7DCA1926E2E00&index=14[/youtube]

Drivers Eye:

Lewis Hamilton: “I love racing in Turkey: it s a real challenge because you need to attack the lap to get a good time, but you also need to be careful with your tyres if you push too much, particularly through Turn Eight, then your tyres are going to suffer.

“It s all about finding the perfect balance in practice and being disciplined in the race so you don t overdo it. I also love the fact that it s a new circuit that has really captured the flavour of some of the older, classic tracks it s got a bit of everything and is fantastic to drive. Also, as it s anti-clockwise, it gives your neck a bit of a workout but you just need to make sure you ve exercised the left side of your neck a little more than usual before getting in the car.”

turkeymain3

Heikki Kovalainen: “Turkey is all about Turn Eight the high-speed, four-apex left-hander. On a good day in qualifying, it s flat-out and that s a pretty good feeling when you get it right. It s also very important to look after your tyres through Turn Eight you put a lot of load through the tyres, particularly the fronts, so it s a good idea to look after them during the race. The best place to overtake here is into Turn 12, the corner at the end of the back straight. You can get a good tow and slipstream past with KERS we should hopefully see some exciting racing.”


ISTANBUL PARK – THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE

The anti-clockwise direction of Istanbul Park, with its eight
left-handed corners, has no direct bearing on car set-up. However, as
with any racetrack there are several key moments on the lap, the most
significant of which is Turn 8.

turkey7

The cars and drivers pull up to 5G for seven seconds through this
triple-apex left-hander, making it one of the most physical corners in
the world for the drivers. The minimum speed through here is 250kph
(155mph), but that’s not the reason why it’s a key corner from a
technical point of view. A mid-corner bump, when the car is fully
loaded, forces the engineers not to set the ride height too low and that
punishes the car’s handling through other corners.

A pre-requisite for a competitive lap time at Istanbul Park is good car
balance because there are a number of 180-degree corners that reward
good handling. Then there’s the slow left-right-left sequence at the end
of the lap that leads the cars back onto the pit straight. The braking
point into this section sees the cars slow from 300kph (186mph) down to
80kph (50mph), which makes it the best overtaking point on the lap.

Full throttle: 62%
Brake wear: Medium
Downforce level: Medium – 6/10
Tyre compounds: Medium / Hard
Tyre usage: Medium
Average speed: 220kph (137mph)

BMW on Turkey:

Technical Insight Willy Rampf: “The drivers race anti-clockwise at Istanbul Park and the circuit offers plenty of variety and entertainment. There are slow sections where good traction is required. And then there is the spectacular Turn 8, made up of four distinct sections and yet taken in one line at going on for 250 km/h. Given the long often uphill straights, the cars must not have too much drag. Good aerodynamic efficiency is the key to setting a good lap time.”

Nick Heidfeld: “It was freezing at Istanbul in 2008, even though spring had arrived in central Europe. I m hoping for a bit more luck with the weather this time around. Turn 8 is the jewel in the crown of this circuit. It has several apexes and is long, fast and challenging. All in all I think this is a great track. However, the daily journey to the circuit can take a while and be rather difficult. It is located on the Asian side of the city, and if you re staying on the European side you have to get through the crowds on the Bosphorus Bridge every day.”

Sources: Honda Racing (2008), McLaren, BMW Sauber

FOTA not accepting 2010 budget cap

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has stressed that FOTA’s decision to lodge a collective entry for the 2010 World Championship does not mean that the teams accept the FIA’s proposed budget cap.

The remaining nine teams joined Williams in submitting their entries for the 2010 season on Friday, however, the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) confirmed that the entry was conditional on a new Concorde Agreement being signed before 12 June, as well as regulations based on the 2009 season.

Stefano Domenicali has stressed that this does not mean the teams accept the FIA’s proposal for a budget cap in 2010, which they say would damage the sport by creating a two-tier system.

“Absolutely not,” he replied when asked if the teams may eventually accept the cap. “The request to make the 2009 regulations the starting point, means there will be no budget cap.

The conditional entry allows FOTA to challenge the proposed budget cap and push their agenda for achieving a more sustainable sport through the standardisation of key components on the car, and a redistribution of revenue.

“[Cost cutting] should be done by implementing a self-regulating procedure within FOTA, so that the body itself and the teams carry out the monitoring,” said Domenicali. “We know exactly what must be done and we can do it on our own, as can be seen from what has been achieved so far. In fact, this is exactly what has been happening for years as regards testing, where it is the teams that have reached an agreement among themselves to manage the situation and it works well.”

“The FIA wants to significantly reduce costs with two objectives: to stop any more existing teams from quitting the sport and to allow for the eventual entry of new teams. Both these targets can be met: costs will be considerably reduced and, at the same time, there will be considerable efforts made by the current competitors in Formula 1 to stay in the sport.”

Domenicali reaffirmed that if the conditions were not met it would be back to square one with the teams’ entries made invalid.

“It’s very simple,” he said. “The nine teams – Williams membership having been suspended that currently make up FOTA, have put in entries for the 2010 championship that will only be valid if the Concorde Agreement is signed and if the regulations will be those currently in use, but modified as per FOTA’s suggestions.

” The action taken yesterday is completely in keeping with Ferrari’s principles, as stated at the Main Board meeting on 12 May and with those of FOTA.”

Teams buy themselves time with conditional 2010 entry

PoliticsAll the Formula One teams have submitted their entries for the 2010 championship, but with the condition that a new agreement between the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) and the FIA is signed, and that the rules for next year are “identical for all competitors and amended in accordance with proposals that FOTA has submitted to the FIA.”

The teams have been locked in a fierce battle with the FIA in the run up to today’s deadline for entry into the 2010 season over the proposed £40 budget cap. The teams say it would damage the sport by creating a two-tier system and Ferrari, who have been leading the protest, have threatened to quit the sport, along with Toyota, Red Bull Racing, and Renault.

But with the teams facing the very real threat of losing their place on the grid next year, the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) gave in to the FIA and submitted a collective entry for 2010.

However, FOTA confirmed that the entry was conditional on a new Concorde Agreement being signed by the teams and the FIA before 12 June. This effectively buys the teams more time to negotiate with the FIA over the proposed regulations for 2010 and beyond.

It will also give them more time to challenge the proposed budget cap and push their agenda for achieving a more sustainable sport through the standardisation of key components on the car, and a redistribution of revenue.

FOTA said in a statement: “FOTA confirms all its Members long-term commitment to be involved in the FIA Formula One World Championship and has unanimously agreed further and significant actions to substantially reduce the costs of competing in the Championship in the next three years, creating a mechanism that will preserve the technological competition and the sporting challenge and, at the same time, facilitate the entry in the F1 Championship for new Teams.”

“These measures are in line with what has already decided in 2009 within FOTA, achieving important saving on engines and gearboxes.”

The teams organisation went on to outline its two conditions for entry into the 2010 season:

“All FOTA teams have entered the 2010 championship on the basis that:
1) The Concorde Agreement is signed by all parties before 12th June 2009, after which all FOTA teams will commit to competing in Formula One until 2012. The renewal of the Concorde Agreement will provide security for the future of the sport by binding all parties in a formal relationship that will ensure stability via sound governance.

“2) The basis of the 2010 regulations will be the current 2009 regulations, amended in accordance with proposals that FOTA has submitted to the FIA.”

McLaren hoping for improvement in Turkey

lrg-import-v9f9440After a disastrous Monaco Grand Prix McLaren are not expecting things to get much better in Istanbul, but several minor upgrades to their car should keep them the mix for points.

McLaren will be looking to put the Monaco Grand Prix behind them going into next week’s Turkish Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton epitomised the team’s torrid start to the season by crashing out in qualifying, effectively writing off his race – and with it his hopes of defending his title – while Heikki Kovalainen consolidated the nightmare by dropping his car into the barriers in the race after running as high as seventh.

It was something of an opportunity missed too. The Hamilton-McLaren package was widely tipped to shine in Monte Carlo with the twisty street circuit masking the aerodynamic flaws of the MP4-24.

The Istabul Speed Circuit with its flowing high speed corners couldn’t be further apart from the streets of Monaco and that is why McLaren are bracing themselves for another difficult weekend.

“We go to Turkey in the knowledge that the track characteristics are a bit less likely to suit our package than Monaco,” conceded McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

Mercedes Benz boss Norbert Haug added: “KERS should again be a good support to improve our lap times, but nevertheless the Turkish Grand Prix will be a demanding challenge for us.”

However, McLaren, continuing their highly effective piecemeal approach to development this season – compare BMW Sauber who have been forced to make radical changes to an under performing car – will bring several minor upgrades to their car for Istanbul which they hope will keep them in contention for points.

“We are improving all the time, confirmed Whitmarsh. “We have several minor upgrades for MP4-24 and look forward to assessing our competitiveness against our rivals.”

Lewis Hamilton meanwhile, who put in a sensational charge to second place in Istanbul last year despite being forced to make an extra pit stop for tyres, is relishing the prospect of throwing his car around the undulating circuit.

“I love racing in Turkey,” he said. “It’s a real challenge because you need to attack the lap to get a good time, but you also need to be careful with your tyres – if you push too much, particularly through Turn Eight, then your tyres are going to suffer. It’s all about finding the perfect balance in practice and being disciplined in the race so you don’t overdo it.”

“I also love the fact that it’s a new circuit that has really captured the flavour of some of the older, classic tracks it’s got a bit of everything and is fantastic to drive. Also, as it’s anti-clockwise, it gives your neck a bit of a workout but you just need to make sure you’ve exercised the left side of your neck a little more than usual before getting in the car.”

Heikki Kovalainen concurred: “Turkey is all about Turn Eight the high-speed, four-apex left-hander. On a good day in qualifying, it’s flat-out and that’s a pretty good feeling when you get it right.”

“It’s also very important to look after your tyres through Turn Eight you put a lot of load through the tyres, particularly the fronts, so it’s a good idea to look after them during the race. The best place to overtake here is into Turn 12, the corner at the end of the back straight. You can get a good tow and slipstream past with KERS we should hopefully see some exciting racing.”

Can Red Bull stop another Brawn whitewash in Turkey?

redbullgRed Bull Racing have confirmed they will not make any significant changes to their car ahead of next week’s Turkish Grand Prix, paving the way for another Brawn GP whitewash.

The Milton-Keynes based outfit emerged as Brawn’s major rivals in the early part of the season after dominating the Chinese Grand Prix, and a decision to focus their efforts on developing a split diffuser for the Monaco Grand Prix was supposed to bring them even closer to the Brackley team.

But the team appeared to take a step back in Monte Carlo with Sebastian Vettel struggling to match the Brawn drivers in qualifying despite carrying half of their fuel load. It was Ferrari that went on to challenge Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello in the race.

With only minor upgrades to the RB5 planned for Istanbul, Red Bull Racing could find themselves falling even further behind.

Team principal Christian Horner said: “In Istanbul, the RB5 will essentially be in the same specification as in Monaco, with a few minor aero updates.”

“This is an important race in the Championship and our target is to challenge the Brawns who have had a remarkable run so far.”

“It was also clear at the last two races that Ferrari have made a significant step forward and I think we can expect them to play a key role this weekend, especially as it’s a race they’ve won for the past three years.”

However, the Istanbul speed park, with its flowing mix of high speed corners including the notorious turn 8, replicates some of the characteristics of Barcelona and should suit the RB5 better than Monaco.

“The high-speed Turkish track represents a completely different challenge to Monaco and it should be better suited to the strengths of our car,” confirmed Horner. “Mark was competitive at this circuit last year and Sebastian made his F1 debut in Turkey in 2007, as a ‘Friday-driver’ for BMW, topping the time sheet in both sessions.”

“It will be important for us to achieve a strong result and our objective has to be to reduce the gap to the Championship leaders. We’ve been competitive at all the circuits so far this season, even though at a couple of races our performance has been compromised by cars equipped with KERS.

“Management of the softer tyres in the inevitably high Turkish temperatures will also be a key factor, as indeed it has been at most of the races so far. It will be important not to abuse the tyres in the high-speed turns and this could play a key role in the final result. We look forward to the weekend, it should be a really interesting race.”

BMW pin hopes of recovery on split diffuser

kubicaBMW Sauber are hoping that the introduction of a split diffuser onto their car for next week’s Turkish Grand Prix will vault them up the grid after a disastrous start to the season.

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director said: “Ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix our results are quite sobering. Nobody in the team expected the season to pan out as it has so far. After taking a forward step in Spain, we were clearly off the pace in Monaco. To regain our competitiveness we will have to ramp up our development speed significantly. In Istanbul we will have the next step of our development ready and will be using a multistage diffuser for the first time.

“After three successful years, this phase is our first setback. We can deal with it. After all, it was the same team in Munich and Hinwil that ensured our progressive advancement since the BMW Sauber F1 Team was founded. We are all determined to get ourselves back among the front runners again.”

Willy Rampf, Head of Engineering: “We’ll be lining up in Turkey with a new development package, which also features a double diffuser. Since the F1.09 concept was not designed for this, we had to make a number of aerodynamic adjustments. There are modifications to the front wings, side bargeboards, rim shields and the rear part of the engine cover. We expect this to take us a step forward, although we know that our rivals are not standing still.

“After the race in Monte Carlo we also had an in-depth look at the tyre problems. For the race in Turkey, Bridgestone is providing the soft and hard compounds, which are hugely different. The harder of the two compounds in particular will pose a challenge for the engineers.

“The Istanbul Park circuit is run in an anti-clockwise direction and it’s as varied as it gets. It has slow sections where good traction is crucial, but there are also fast parts such as the spectacular turn 8 with its four sections, which has to be taken in a single line at around 250 km/h. Overall, the track makes stringent demands on the car’s balance. After the disappointing outcome in Monte Carlo, we hope to come away with a positive result here.”

Robert Kubica: “The track in Istanbul is totally different to Monaco. It is a very modern race track with a couple of high-speed corners. The most famous high-speed corner there is the left-hander turn 8. Of course, we hope to perform better in Istanbul than in Monaco.”

Nick Heidfeld: “I hope our dismal performance in Monaco proves to be a glitch and that it was down to that particular circuit being unsuitable for our car. After all, there were signs of a forward trend at the previous race in Spain, and the next update is ready for Istanbul – also including a double diffuser.

“The Istanbul circuit has some extremely good sections, particularly turn 8, of course, which is quite a challenge very long, fast and with several apexes. For the long straight with the right-hand kink you need a good top speed.

“It’s a vast city, very international and fascinating. I’ll be there on Wednesday already for an event with our partner Intel. I’m staying at a hotel on the European side again and will take a motor scooter to carve my way through the congestion over the bridge to Asia.

Ecclestone adamant budget cap will happen

Although the teams have bought themselves time to negotiate with the FIA by submitting a conditional entry for the 2010 world championship HERE], it looks unlikely that the FIA will back down over the proposed budget cap for 2010 following comments from Bernie Ecclestone.

“I am sure there will be a cap,” Ecclestone told the Times. “I think we are seeing the start of what is going to be a huge row – no, this is the beginning of something positive.”

However, Formula One’s chief executive refused to comment on the specific details of the cap, and it is still possible that the FIA and the teams could settle on a phased introduction of the cap before the value hits £40 million in 2011. That would give the teams some bargaining power to overturn the concept of capping, should the economy start to pick up in 2010.

New teams poised to enter F1

Lola, David Richard’s Prodrive outfit, USF1, and Campos Racing have submitted an entry for the 2010 World Championship, alongside all the teams currently competing in the sport.

The deadline for submissions was on Friday and Lola were among those teams lodge an entry with the FIA.

The Lola Group said in a statement: “Lola believes that the WMSC decisions relating to cost-capping and the provision of revised technical regulations to facilitate the entry of new teams into Formula One should be embraced,” the company said in a statement.

“This is not only prudent considering the backdrop of global economics but also taking into account the need for new teams to be able to compete credibly against long established entrants.”

About the teams

LOLA

Lola Cars International Ltd. is a racing car engineering company founded in 1958 by Eric Broadley and based in Huntingdon, England. Lola Cars started by building small front-engined sports cars, and branched out into Formula Junior cars before diversifying into one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of racing cars in the world. Lola was acquired by Martin Birrane in 1998 after the unsuccessful Lola MasterCard attempt at Formula One.

Lola Cars is a member of the Lola Group, which combines former rowing boat manufacturer Lola Aylings and Lola Composites, who specialize in carbon fibre production.

PRODRIVE

Prodrive Ltd. is a motorsport and automotive engineering group based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England. It designs, constructs and races cars for companies and teams such as Subaru and Aston Martin. Its Automotive Technology division based in Warwick provides road car design and engineering consultation for various car manufacturers.

Prodrive is perhaps best known for its involvement in the World Rally Championship with the Subaru World Rally Team.

In addition to its British base, the group has activities in Thailand, China and Australia. Turnover in 2005 was £112 million.

USF1

US Grand Prix Engineering, or USGPE for short, is an American group entering Formula One in the 2010 season. The team had originally planned to enter under the group name USF1, but had to change due to the objection of Bernie Ecclestone, who claims to own the rights to the term F1. Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) president Max Mosley confirmed in early February 2009 that he had been approached by the group but that costs are currently too high for them to be competitive. The team is fronted by Haas CNC Racing technical director Ken Anderson and journalist Peter Windsor.

Autoblog has reported that the team will promote American technology under the banner “Made in America” and that the cars will be designed and built in Charlotte, North Carolina. A secondary European base will be in Azkoitia, Basque Country, Spain, sharing facilities with the Epsilon Euskadi racing team. Anderson would like the team’s cars to be driven by two American drivers and are considering any American driver with the right credentials. The team was officially launched on February 24 on the Speed television channel.

Windsor’s team blog confirms that one of their initial investors are the advertising agency of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Campos Racing

Campos Racing is founded by retired Formula One driver Adrián Campos. He founded Adrian Campos Motorsport (later renamed Campos Grand Prix) in 1998, with Marc Gene winning the Open Fortuna by Nissan championship in its first year before immediately reaching Formula One. He also ran Fernando Alonso in his early years.

The team entered the GP2 series when it was launched for 2005. Two fifth places were the best results that year. The team opened 2006 with a podium at Valencia for Adrian Valles, but neither he nor fellow Spaniard Felix Porteiro scored another podium all year (Portiera was second on the road at Silverstone, but a steering rack irregularity caused him to be disqualified).

The signing of veteran Giorgio Pantano for 2007 lead the team forward, Pantano scoring two victories and 3rd overall, with team-mate Vitaly Petrov also winning at the season finale at Valencia. For 2008 Petrov remained, with Ben Hanley replaced in the second car by Lucas di Grassi after three rounds. Di Grassi immediately recaptured his 2007 form, with three second places in his first four starts, and subsequent wins at the Hungaroring and the new Valencia Street Circuit – which represented a double for the team, as Petrov won race one, having scored just one other podium all year. The Campos team won the 2008 Teams’ Championship. In October 2008, Campos announced that he plans to step down from running the GP2 team and to sell his stake in it, but will still remain involved in F3 and a new project that is unspecified. The GP2 team was taken over by Alejandro Agag and renamed Barwa Addax.

Campos has been linked to a move into Formula One, and he considered buying the assets of the defunct Super Aguri team. In May 2009, his team lodged an entry for the 2010 Formula One season.

Source: Wikipedia

Early season form report

With all the kerfuffle surrounding entry deadlines, suspensions, two-tier rules and budget caps, F1 fans might be forgiven for forgetting the progress of the season. But on the track 2009 is already a third through; so who is looking good and who bad?

On the good side, Brawn have effectively dominated the sport. A fantastic, complex and innovative piece of machinery, the BGP 001 has been the class of the field at nearly all the tracks the circus has visited – with the only difference being the size of its advantage. Jenson Button has guided the machine to five superb victories, during all of which he has not made a single mistake. It would take an extremely brave or prescient person now to bet against the Englishman for the world championship. Rubens Barrichello has ably assisted in the development and set-up of the car – although doubtless he would wish it were he at the top of the leaderboard.

Red Bull have also been near the front. A combination of Adrian Newey’s chassis – without a double diffuser, let us remember – and Sebastian Vettel’s near-flawless racing has propelled the Milton Keynes team into contention at nearly every race. Mark Webber has pushed the young German and will continue to do so; whether he can match Vettel in talent is another question.

With these exceptions, 2009 has so far been a year of gross underperformance. This has nevertheless given fans the particular privilege of watching top-level drivers in poor cars, where they consistently still manage to display their talent. Fernando Alonso is the obvious example of this – he often fights valiantly for points in a car with which Nelson Piquet Jr, perhaps because of a lack of support in the team, can do nothing. A similar situation is in progress at McLaren – Lewis Hamilton is doing a great job worthy of a defending world champion and the fact that he is not in contention should not de-motivate the Stevenage man. Heikki Kovalainen, meanwhile, has been ordinary, and speculation surrounds his future at the team.

So Renault and McLaren have not produced good cars this year, and by their own high standards, neither have Ferrari. Felipe Massa has shown occasional signs that he will not go back to his bad old days despite not having top-level machinery. All credit to the most-improved driver in recent F1 history, who may well end up closer to the front in 2009 than seems possible at the moment. Meanwhile, in the other side of the garage, Kimi Raikkonen occasionally shows frustrating glimpses of the talent he still possesses. For all the talk and the conjecture, one cannot avoid the conclusion that the Finn is not trying as hard as once he would have.

BMW Sauber are having a disastrous year, despite having been pencilled in as potential champions before the season started. The ball has been dropped by Hinwil and it will take a substantial effort for them to recover anything from the season. Bafflingly, Kubica was destined for second or third in Australia – but somewhere along the development line something has been missed and they are yet to replicate that form. Toyota have shown a similarly fluctuating level of performance, but will probably be in contention for podiums or wins if the pieces fall into place.

2010 and its budget cap cannot come quickly enough for Williams and the other runners. The Grove squad produced a decent car that threatens fifth or sixth at any grand prix, but that, for such an illustrious team, is not good enough. They and Force India need a level playing field as soon as possible.

Revised championship prediction:

Drivers:
1. Jenson Button
2. Sebastian Vettel
3. Rubens Barrichello
4. Felipe Massa
5. Jarno Trulli

Constructors:
1. Brawn GP
2. Ferrari
3. Red Bull
4. Toyota
5. McLaren

Button set for a pay rise to keep him at Brawn

button6-1.jpgJenson Button is set to be offered more money in order to keep the Frome flyer at Brawn GP in the longer term.

The British driver took a massive reduction in pay for this season, when Honda’s withdrawal meant the team had to tighten its purse strings considerably. But the form they and he have found has meant that they can now afford to offer the championship leader a substantial pay rise.

“He took voluntarily a major reduction [at the start of the season] but he does have a contract for several years to come and we will discussing at some stage later this year what we do to make sure he is rewarded fairly,” Brawn GP CEO Nick Fry told Autosport magazine. “But it is not something we are discussing at the moment.

“These contracts are quite complicated but it is not something that is vexing us at the moment. He has done a great job and later in the year he will win more races and have a discussion.”

The money on the table will be to try to entice Button to stay at the team, as big-money offers are reported to be in the offing from rival teams. Possible destinations could include McLaren, where he would partner Lewis Hamilton, or even Ferrari alongside Fernando Alonso. Stranger things have happened.