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Car Reviews

Motorists could save money with

However, one expert has revealed road users could save money by converting their original petrol and diesel classic to electric technology today.

The experts say road users can have any classic car retrofitted with electric battery technology for cheaper than buying a new car in a “future proof” innovation.

Car updates will take just a few months to finalise with costs starting from just £25,000, cheaper than most electric cars.

In comparison, Ford’s new Mach-E will set motorists back upwards of over £50,000 while Tesla’s Model S has a price tag of over £80,000.

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Only cheap models such as the Volkswagen ID.3 and the Honda e will be available for a similar £20-30,000 price although motorists could save money in the long run by converting, according to Steve Drummond.

Co-founder of electric conversion company Electrogenic, Mr Drummond experimented with the technology on his own Classic Volkswagen Beetle before installing it into customer cars.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Drummond said: “What I say to people is this car, for example, the electric Beetle, it performs about the same as a [new electric car].

“To convert it costs about the same as a [one] but in five years time you’re still driving around in classic Beetle which has not depreciated.”

From the outside, even the most dedicated of car enthusiast would not believe the Beetle had gone through advanced buildings works.

The large electric motor is neatly tucked into the boot space as if to demonstrate EV motors should not be a car’s defining feature.

According to their site, Electrogenic’s vehicles have classic DNA with the technology of tomorrow confirming their pledge to keep extra interferences to a minimum.

Mr Drummond claims converting the cars in this way makes the vehicle’s more environmentally friendly than purchasing one from brand new.

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His team reuses the entire chassis of the car and installing a simple battery motor is the only manufacturing requirement.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “You’re not building a whole new car, you’re recycling your car. So our carbon footprint is a fraction of a new electric car.” 

He added: “What we do is we keep the core technology the same and the adaptations are the drivetrain and the way you put the batteries, how you arrange the batteries.

“Nothing is cut, the only thing we’ve done is we’ve drilled a few hotels to let the cable through and that’s it.”

 

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Mr Drummond confirmed almost all vehicles can be retrofitted although warned some may not see the benefits compared to others.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “You can do anything but some things lend themselves to some classics than others, If it’s really heavy you’re going to use a lot of battery power just to start from the traffic lights every time.”

After recent concerns regarding battery life in electric vehicles, Mr Drummond also confirmed the designs were “future proof” as updates could be easily made to the cars.

He claims converted vehicles were safe from battery issues as experts would be able to simply install new battery technology.

He says the option to make upgrades to the cars and tweak batteries means vehicles would not need to be scrapped which would save motorists money in the long run.

Mr Drummond added: “The range will decrease by about 20 percent over the next 175,000 miles so the question is how long is it going to take you to drive over 175,000 miles in a Beetle.

“It’s not a problem that you are going to have in the next 10 years, but the interesting thing about these is that the entire thing is retrofitted.

“[If] new battery technology comes along, easy, we just retrofit if that’s what you want. It’s very easily done.”

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Racing

Gran Turismo's Sydney Event Set a New Standard for Racing Esports

It’s easy to watch the latest Gran Turismo World Tour events and forget just how far the FIA-certified championship has come.

The 2018 EMEA Regional Finals in Madrid, in particular, have always stuck with me. You might remember it for the massive, 28,000 sq. ft “Gran Turismo theater” built inside the convention center hosting Madrid Games Week.

This venue was packed to standing-room only, and the local Spanish crowd was there to cheer on their own Coque Lopez as he fought against Mikail Hizal for the regional championship. The waving flags and the energy and excitement from the crowd was overwhelming enough for me to declare it the “best Gran Turismo event, ever”.

However, upon returning from the 2020 FIA GTC World Tour season opener in Sydney, Australia, I think we have a new benchmark. Here’s why Sydney set the standard:

The Competition

Although the Manufacturer Series was never really in doubt, the Nations Cup finale offered up what many are calling the greatest race in Gran Turismo World Tour history.

Initially, there was some grumbling about the slightly updated format. The often-chaotic “repechage” race, which allowed drivers a last-chance shot at qualifying for the finale, was no longer on the schedule.

Once the semi-finals were under way, however, nobody missed it. With more time, the races were longer, which gave the drivers more opportunities to strategize. They took fewer risks, which meant fewer mistakes, incidents, and penalties.

It set the stage for a thrilling Grand Final, as two established drivers with compelling histories faced off in a strategic battle that was ultimately decided by inches at the finish line. In terms of entertaining racing — virtual or otherwise — it doesn’t get any better than that.

The Characters

The racing was great, but what really sent the drama over the top were the human stories running underneath it all.

Cody Nikola Latkovski has had a bumpy ride in the FIA Gran Turismo Championships. Known as one of the best in the world, a series of aggressive moves had sullied his reputation and attracted many critics.

He vowed to improve, and his driving became faster and cleaner. His growth was remarkable to watch in 2019, but he was never rewarded for it with a World Tour victory last year. Fighting on “home soil” in Australia with both Fraga and Hizal absent, Latkovski was the easy favorite to win it all in Sydney.

However, another interesting character had a different plan…

Miyazono burst onto the World Tour in New York last year with a creative pit strategy that would almost certainly have put him on the podium. However, after a nasty incident — with Latkovski — Miyazono was knocked off the track at Spa-Francorchamps and his race was ruined.

Since that time, Miyazono has been a crowd favorite. He finished second at the next event in Salzburg, but the podium has always been just out-of-reach since.

With the drivers’ history, it made their battle in the closing laps at Sydney all the more dramatic. In case you missed it, you can re-watch the highlights from the final race here:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=zltL-_A8iB8%3Ffeature%3Doembed

This storyline would not have been possible a year ago. It takes time — and lots of events — for these characters to develop, and for us, the viewers, to become invested in them. Now in its third year, consistency and longevity is taking the Gran Turismo World Tour into new story-telling territory that is typically only enjoyed by the most established racing series.

The Crowd

One element which sets “esports” apart from LANs or online-only events is the live crowd. While many World Tours have been open the public since the famed EMEA Regional Finals in Madrid, this was the largest crowd we have seen since that time.

Exact attendance numbers were not released, but the Big Top venue in Sydney was configured to seat 700 people. It was not completely full, but the vast majority of seats were occupied, likely putting this event on par with Madrid’s 500-person sell-out.

Of course, a crowd can only really get into the competition when they have someone to cheer for, and Cody Latkovski’s performance in the closing laps sent them into an absolute frenzy. There was cheering, chanting, gasps, and applause, creating an atmosphere as good as any live sporting event.

In those closing laps of the final race, nobody was thinking about the fact they were watching a video game — they were watching two talented competitors fighting in a brilliant race to the finish.

The Production

Few people understand the mountain of logistics and organization required to host one of these events. Hundreds of people are involved, and events outside of Europe can be even more challenging as different equipment and production companies must be used.

As the first significant Gran Turismo event in Australia to date, it made the new-and-improved show all the more impressive.

Transition elements were added to the broadcast which improved its polish, such as Jimmy Broadbent’s live course previews. Vlog-style recaps from the likes of Julia and Tom introduced some humor and did a better job of keeping viewers entertained between the races.

A Strong Start to 2020

Although Kazunori Yamauchi has already announced that GT Sport will receive more “modest” updates this year, Gran Turismo has already started 2020 with quite a bit of momentum.

As good as the EMEA Regional Finals were back in 2018, with the drama on track and the genuine excitement of the crowd, Sydney eclipsed Madrid in more ways than one. It set a new standard by which not only future World Tours will be judged, but all live racing esports competitions.

With the PlayStation 5 and the next Gran Turismo game just over the horizon, this is a very good place for the franchise to be.

Keep an eye out for the next Gran Turismo World Tour at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, May 22-24, 2020.

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Car Reviews

Car Sales February 2019: Tata Motors Records 31 Per Cent Drop In PV Sales

Tata Motors passenger vehicle sales went down by 31 per cent in February 2020 selling 12,430 units as compared to 18,110 units which were sold in the same month last year. Company’s cumulative PV sales between April 2019 and February 2020 went down by 35 per cent selling at 1,25,521 units as compared to 1,92,333 units sold in the same period last year. According to the company, the low sales are due to a recent virus incident at one of its strategic dealerships that has affected volumes.

Mayank Pareek, President, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, Tata Motors said,”Our new Altroz received an overwhelming response. Our new forever product portfolio has built a strong order book since its launch end of January. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 in China and a recent fire incident at one of our strategic vendors affected the vehicle production and wholesale volume. Multiple actions are being taken to reduce the impact, staying close to our customers by providing transparency of the delivery situation. On a positive note our BSIV vehicle stock is well below the targeted level, we are well placed for the BSIV-BSVI transition and with the strong customer interest in the new forever portfolio and a step up in market activation, we are confident of improving our market competitiveness and volume growth in the coming months.”

The commercial vehicle business also witnessed a decline of 33 per cent in sales at 28,086 units as compared to 41,882 units sold in the same month last year. CV sales between April 2019 and February 2020 went down by 28 per cent at 3,33,577 units as compared to 4,63,241 units sold in the same period last year.

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Bikes

Over 300 Women Participate In Delhi-Jaipur JK Tyre TSD Drive

The second edition of the all-women’s TSD (Time, Speed & Distance) Drive – North Chapter – by JK Tyre was flagged off on Saturday, February 29, 2020. The rally saw over 300 women in participation from the starting point at Siri Fort Auditorium in Delhi, and the TSD Drive will continue up to Jaipur. The rally was flagged off by the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju and Anshuman Singhania, Deputy Managing Director, JK Tyre & Industries. The FMSCI-approved event is organised to promote women in motorsports and saw over 105 cars making their way to Jaipur.

Speaking at the flag off, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “It is a wonderful occasion to see so many women get together driving for a cause. I am really excited to see each car and each team with its own social message. With so many designs, colours, it made the event very interesting. JK Tyre has been obviously the leading company in India promoting motorsport in the country. I really want to promote motorsport in the country because it has huge potential.”

Sanjay Sharma, Head – Motorsport, JK Tyre said, “We are delighted to be part of this exciting and iconic event for the second time in a row. JK Tyre has been the pioneer when it comes to encouraging women participation in motorsports. We not only promote ladies in racing and rallying circuit but also support many other events which are exclusive to women. It is indeed heartening to see so many ladies out here lining up for glory and I just wish that the number keeps on increasing every year helping us unearth new talents.”

The rally saw the driving and navigational skills of the participants being put to test. The TSD Drive had strategically located time controls in the 290 km long drive. Being an all-women rally, the TSD Drive saw much enthusiasm from the participants, who also used the platform to promote a number of causes including breast cancer awareness, women empowerment, girl child and safe driving.

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Racing

Max Verstappen says top teams have 'head start' on 2021

Max Verstappen thinks it will take a few years for the 2021 budget cap to have an effect, saying the top teams have a “head start”.

Teams will be capped at spending $175million per-season from 2021 as part of the new F1 regulations aimed at making Formula 1 more competitive and sustainable, though there will be certain exceptions like salaries for drivers and top executives.

But Verstappen doesn’t expect an immediate impact on the order of the teams – already Ferrari have confirmed that they have increased their budget significantly to compete in 2020 while developing their car for 2021.

And Verstappen believes their ability to do that, as well Mercedes and Red Bull who complete the dominant F1 trio, means that the top teams have a “head start” on the rest of the grid for 2021.

So he expects it to take a few years before the budget cap starts levelling the playing field.

“I do not think it will make much of a difference, because most teams are already investing heavily in the 2021 cars,” he told Verstappen.nl.

“The big teams can invest more, so they will have a head start into the new year. It may take a couple of years before you see a difference.”

This year was set to feature a record 22-race calendar, and it could yet happen if the Chinese GP is rescheduled, but Verstappen hopes that no more races are added, saying it’s important still to have a “life outside of Formula 1″.

“I think the current number of races is okay. I would not want to do any more, as we are already a lot away from home,” he explained.

“It is not only the races, but also everything else in between. That is why I would not want to do any more Grand Prix. Not because I do not like it, but because it will be too busy. I think it is important to be able to have a life outside of Formula 1.”

Verstappen is tipped as the most likely young challenger, alongside Charles Leclerc, to Lewis Hamilton’s dominant reign over Formula 1.

The six-time World Champion is becoming increasingly involved with projects outside of the series, and Verstappen was asked if he would like to go down a similar route, despite only being 22.

“Slowly. But it depends on what your hobbies are,” he replied.

“Mine are always in racing. So in that respect I am staying mostly in the same world.”

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Racing

Honda Super GT signing has F1 potential – Mugen

New Honda SUPER GT signing Ukyo Sasahara has the potential to race in Formula 1 in future, believes Team Mugen boss and sometime grand prix racer Shinji Nakano.

Sasahara, 23, was selected to partner Hideki Mutoh in the #16 Honda NSX-GT for the 2020 season, replacing the now-retired Daisuke Nakajima in the seat that had originally been earmarked for Formula 2 racer Nobuharu Matsushita.

Discussing the decision to hire Sasahara, Nakano said he felt his new driver’s English language skills and “competitive spirit” would help drive Mugen forward after a woeful 2019 campaign that saw Mutoh and Nakajima finish bottom of the GT500 standings.

“It was the team’s hope to sign a driver who is young and still growing, and is aiming for the top,” Nakano told Motorsport.com. “Amid that, his [Sasahara’s] name came up.

“I’ve known him for a long time, I know his personality, his driving style and his attitude towards work. I thought his style would help us fill some gaps within the team.

“His driving is very aggressive and his competitive spirit is also strong. He is one of few Japanese drivers who is racing abroad on merit. And not only his driving, the ability to communicate in English, there are hardly any young Japanese drivers who can do this.

“The results he has had in recent years was one factor in his selection. But more than that, I was interested in the approach he was taking and how he was fighting. I think it’s something our team needs right now.”

Sasahara had established himself on the European single-seater ladder several years back, even finishing third overall in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC in 2015, but budget issues forced a move back to Japan after sporadic outings in European F3 in 2016.

He revived his career by finishing second in Japanese F4 in 2017, third in All-Japan F3 in 2018 and winning the Asian F3 championship last year ahead of Red Bull protege Jack Doohan.

In addition, he made his first steps in sportscar racing by winning the Porsche Carrera Cup Japan title and helping Japan to a gold medal in the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games (below).

#519 JPN Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3: Hiroshi Hamaguchi, Ukyo Sasahara

Photo by: SRO

Nakano – himself a veteran of 33 F1 grands prix with Prost and Minardi – feels that just because Sasahara has taken up a drive in SUPER GT he can’t eventually go on to compete in F1.

“The possibilities are endless,” he said. “Ukyo has taken on many challenges, chosen a different path to most people, and he has made it this far. That’s a great thing and few drivers in Japan have this kind of challenging spirit.

“Having a driver like him racing in Japan is a good stimulus for others. Also, just because he is back in Japanese races doesn’t mean he’s lost his chance of racing in F1 or other overseas categories. From here I think he can leave the nest again no problem.

“If there is a possibility, I want to support him. And if he leaves [for other series], there will be a new path [open to others].”

Sasahara, who said getting the call-up to Team Mugen was a surprise, had his first chance to try the Honda NSX-GT in a private test at Sepang in January.

The 23-year-old however underlined that racing in SUPER GT will do nothing to dampen his F1 ambitions, which he believes are still achievable.

“F1 has been my objective since I was a child,” Sasahara told Motorsport.com. “I don’t think this will change my whole life and I don’t think I need to give up this ambition. However, I consider this [entering SUPER GT] a good chance and I’ll take it positively. 

“Although I’m still aiming for F1, I think SUPER GT has some elements that are similar, so I want to prepare myself well and show my true potential. I’ll do my best wherever I am and if I get good results I still have a chance to reach my goal.”

Additional reporting by Kenichiro Ebii

Ukyo Sasahara (B-Max Racing with Motopark)

Photo by: Tomohiro Yoshita

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Racing

Frijns can’t understand ‘utter bullshit’ Marrakesh penalty

Envision Virgin Formula E driver Robin Frijns says his qualifying wall hit caused the “utter bullshit” penalty that consigned him to the back of the Marrakesh E-Prix grid.

Frijns’s qualifying attempt was compromised by him tagging the outside wall on exit of the sharp Turn 10 left-hander, as he ended up 0.485s off the pace and 14th-fastest in group qualifying.

But with the power output from his Audi e-tron FE06’s battery “not respecting the homologated throttle pedal map”, in a breach of article 3.1 of the technical regulations, Frijns’ was stripped of his best laptime and placed 22nd on the grid, on the strength of his 1m27s preparation lap.

Frijns said the infraction was caused by a power spike that lasted “milliseconds” after the impact with the wall, and felt the penalty was unnecessary.

“I was on a decent lap, I would say,” Frijns told Motorsport.com. “Even though we don’t have the pace to be on pole, I think it was good enough to be in superpole.

“And then I went on the power in [Turn] 10 and the rear pretty much snapped, surprisingly. And the moment I hit the wall, I had an over-power spike.

“I mean, I lost already three and a half tenths on the straight [aftewards] because I hit the wall. But because of that spike – which, I don’t know how many milliseconds [it lasted], you don’t gain anything from it, but the FIA sees it and takes my laps away, which is utter bullshit.

“Unfortunately that’s the rules, but you need to take logic in some cases. If you’re overpowered for a long straight and you gained two tenths, then yeah, you will get penalised, but an overspike at the moment you hit the wall because you kept on power, and even though you [already] lost three and a half tenths – [a penalty] doesn’t make sense.”

Motorsport.com understands that the FIA believes the offending power spike occurred moments prior to the contact with the wall, and thus the hit should not be viewed as a mitigating circumstance – but Virgin does not agree.

“It’s triggered by oscillation so it’s nothing to do with us,” team managing director Sylvain Filippi reiterated to Motorsport.com. “We are not requesting more power. It’s just the way these powertrains work. But from what we can see, we only went above when he hit the wall.

“For us it is very clear that we’ve done nothing wrong. But the FIA have ruled it and that’s it. We’ve been to the FIA before to show them why it’s happening. It’s not just our team.

“These oscillation issues are normal. We studied the data and it’s obviously not us trying to be clever. Sometimes sadly there’s not much room for compromise.”

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Racing

Unseen Mortara clash caused Sims’ Marrakesh retirement

BMW Formula E driver Alex Sims says an “innocuous” crash with Edoardo Mortara was the cause of his last-lap retirement from sixth place in the Marrakesh E-Prix.

Sims started eighth after contesting the group one qualifying battle but was squeezed by Oliver Rowland into Turn 1, which also allowed the Jaguar of James Calado to pass.

Like his performance last time out in Mexico City, Sims showed strong race pace and on lap 13 began to climb from 11th.

He had been set to finish sixth, but was involved with a final-lap collision with the Venturi of Mortara on the run to Turn 7 – an incident missed by the TV feed.

“I was side-by-side with Mortara and we had a light touch in the braking zone,” Sims told Motorsport.com.

“It felt fairly innocuous but it put my steering out substantially and then it gave up halfway.”

The camera later cut to Sims inspecting the rear of his BMW, and he confirmed another terminal driveshaft fault – the same cause of his retirement from the Santiago E-Prix.

“It might just be another awkward one,” Sims added. “It does seem odd in Formula E that you can absolutely smash people and be absolutely fine and then have some lighter contact in other places and it can be race-defining. It was the latter today.”

“It’s just a shame after what had been a pretty well-executed race up to the end. The first lap was pretty disastrous – I wouldn’t say it was massively my fault.

“You pick your side going into corners and sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t work out.”

Sims added that he did not think his attempted pass on Mortara was too excessive that late on in the race.

“Coming into the last couple of laps, I felt pretty strong on energy and pace,” he added. “Now looking back on it, you obviously think ‘should I have just sat there?’ but the move didn’t feel like particularly risky.

Mortara, on the other hand, built up the crash and compared it to Sims’ collision with then BMW teammate Antonio Felix da Costa that denied the team a 1-2 in the Marrakesh race last year.

“He tried to outbrake me on the outside at Turn 7, a little bit like he did with Antonio,” Mortara told Motorsport.com.

“It was something that was not going to end up working either in terms of energy – because he used a lot of energy and I don’t think he was so good in terms of that [both drivers had 2% of useable energy remaining at the time of the collision] – and also in terms of contact.

“He came back to me and tried to squeeze me a little bit at the end. We made quite big contact.

“I don’t really know what happened to him but there was nothing I could do about it. I was very lucky because normally you damage the car.”

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Car Reviews

Watch Tesla Model S Raven Drag Race Acura NSX

Does this NSX’s extra horsepower give it the edge?

Brooks from Drag Times starts this video sharing ambivalent feelings about the modern Acura NSX. With its twin-turbo V6 and trio of electric motors, the supercar offers lots of promise on paper, but Brooks finds that the vehicle in the real world isn’t a big upgrade over the Nissan GT-R – at least in a straight line on the drag strip. This clip gives the NSX another chance, but the car has an extra edge by packing a Fabspeed exhaust and Hydra Motor Works tune. The upgrades should give the coupe around 700 horsepower (522 kilowatts), rather than the stock 573 hp (427 kW). Here, the Acura races against a Tesla Model S Performance Raven.

Spoiler alert: the tuning isn’t enough for the Acura to beat the Tesla. Out of three races, it scores one win. The NSX’s fastest time in this trio of runs is 10.748 seconds. In comparison, the best pass for the Model S is 10.61 seconds.

What drag race videos like this continue to show is that for its price (and in many cases for significantly more), the Model S is a powerful weapon in the quarter-mile. 

If Acura ever offers a hotter version of the modern NSX, then it would likely wear the Type S branding. Going forward, the company wants to reserve that moniker for performance vehicles, while sporty Hondas would have the Type R label.

There are rumblings about an NSX Type S happening that would make an estimated 650 hp (485 kW). However, the model missed the rumored debut at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, so the report was the vehicle’s development was possibly inaccurate.

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Car Reviews

Webber to manage new Renault junior Piastri

Formula 1 race winner Mark Webber will mentor Renault junior Oscar Piastri after signing him under his management arm Jam Sports Management.

Rising Australian star Piastri won the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup title in his second year in the category, beating France’s Victor Martins in a close fight for the championship honours.

He was recently added to the Renault Sport Academy and will step up to the FIA Formula 3 series this year with Prema Racing.

Webber played a key role in Piastri earning a position on Renault’s driver development programme, having himself scored all nine of his F1 race wins in Renault-powered Red Bull cars.

The 43-year-old will now guide Piastri in his quest to become Australia’s first F1 debutant since Daniel Ricciardo, who replaced Webber at Red Bull and currently drives for Renault.

Webber’s wife Ann and Jam Sports Management’s CEO Jason Allen will look after commercial opportunities for Piastri.

“Oscar is an impressive young man. I’ve enjoyed watching him continue his education and do the normal things kids his age do while dovetailing it with his racing – the level of self-discipline and dedication he has shown is admirable,” Webber said.

“What Oscar managed to do last year in Formula Renault was also pretty special, how he took control of the championship and closed the title out.

“He’s got that white line fever when he puts his helmet on and turns into a different character, which is sensational.

“Oscar is in a great position with Renault, they are investing in him, they believe he’s a horse worth backing and keeping a tight eye on, and that’s exciting for him and Australian motorsport.

“He’s trying to get to an extremely tough category in Formula 1, and he knows what’s ahead of him, but Renault and ourselves know Oscar is an incredibly confident young lad, and we think he can do great things.”

Ahead of his maiden F3 campaign, Piastri is currently taking part in the official pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit.

“I’m excited to start working with Mark and Ann; I think everyone in Australia knows who Mark Webber is and he’s a pretty big name to have on my side,” Piastri said.

“Mark’s been through Formula 1, LMP1, and other categories through the years, so he has the experience that I’m sure if I have any issues, he will be able to steer me in the right direction or to the right people in the paddock.  

“It doesn’t change how I go racing; my goals are still the same; it’s just that I’ve got outstanding people in my corner now.”

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