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Esteban Ocon to test Lotus

Lotus F1 Team Junior driver Esteban Ocon will test a two-year old Lotus F1 Team E20 as part of his ongoing development programme and as a reward for winning the FIA Formula 3 Championship in his rookie season.
Eighteen year-old Frenchman Ocon – who has been part of the Lotus F1 Team Junior programme since 2010 – took an unassailable lead in the championship standings this past weekend in Imola meaning the title is his with three races yet to run.
Over the course of his season to date with Italian squad Prema Powerteam, Ocon has achieved nine wins and twenty-one podiums. He currently has 454 points with nearest rival, Max Verstappen, on 368. Ocon has also secured the Rookie title, currently with 558 points to Verstappen’s 448.
Ocon will drive the Lotus F1 Team E20 – as used by Kimi Räikkönen to win the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – over the course of two days at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo on October 22-23. Ahead of his test, he will be conducting a simulator programme at Lotus F1 Team’s Enstone base.
Gerard Lopez, Chairman and Team Principal, Lotus F1 Team:
“Esteban is a tremendous talent for the future. He has shown himself to be a superb driver as part of our Lotus F1 Team Junior programme, we are proud of him and he truly deserves to be given every opportunity to take his career to the next level. To that end he will start testing in the Lotus F1 Team simulator at Enstone this week ahead of driving the E20 at Valencia later this month.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director, Lotus F1 Team:
“Part of the job of Lotus F1 Team is to consider future drivers through our Lotus F1 Team Junior programme, which has evolved from the longstanding and successful driver development programme run out of Enstone. Esteban has really shone this season so it will be rewarding for all to see him in our simulator and then out on track in the E20.”
Esteban Ocon:
“I would like to thank Lotus F1 Team and Gravity Management for this superb opportunity. The support and back-up I have been given since 2011 has enabled me to win the FIA Formula 3 Championship against some strong competition and I can’t wait to get started on the next step of my training. To drive a Formula 1 car has always been a dream of mine, so I can’t wait to get started.”


Supplied by Lotus


A dreary and featureless race

At a dreary and featureless circuit

In a soulless concrete Olympic precinct

 Ruled by a thug

 Formula 1 should never have gone

 The bikes didn’t - to their credit

 ‘Nuf said

 Sam Snape




  There is an old saying that goes you should never meet your heroes, they only disappoint you. This is often especially true of sporting heroes. Most of them have to be fairly ruthless to reach the top and even those that aren't begin to believe their own publicity and this can make for a pretty unlikable individual.

 That photo - Goodowood 2004

  There are those that, although successful, never quite make the very top of the pile, men such as Elio de Angelis or Riccardo Patrese, who are heroes to more thinking fans who prefer more rounded personalities than the uber-successful and they rearly disappoint when you meet them but truly likable champions are a bit thin on the ground.


  I have been fortunate to have met a few that are the exceptions to the rule, even, you could say the exceptions that prove the rule. Phil Hill and Emerson Fittipaldi spring to mind. Included in that few was Jack Brabham. His accomplishments and championships will be known to anyone who reads this and do not really need endless repeating. I would rather speak more of the man than the myth.


  I first met Jack at Fred Vogel's motoring bookshop in Sydney back in 2004 when Fred asked me to photograph the launch of Jack's biography (The Jack Brabham Story written by Doug Nye) and what initially struck me was how, well humble is close but not quite the right word, but lacking in an overblown sense of self importance, he was. Although he was not shy about speaking about his own achievements - it would have been a pretty boring book launch if he was, he seemed happier talking about the progress of his sons and the contribution of Ron Tauranac to his own success. I might have been happier at the time if Fred hadn't introduced me as "the official pornographer" but such was Jack's mischevious sense of humour that that is how he refered to me on the few other occassions we met.

 Jack with Ron Tauranac (L) at his book launch

  Another measure of the man came early the following year when I produced a calendar containing photos taken at the 2004 Goodwood Revival. The cover was a shot of Jack in a BT19 which he was quite taken by. As a courtesy I had sent Jack a copy. I wasn't expecting any response but thought at best I might get some acknowledgement from a secretary or someone else on his behalf. What I wasn't expecting was the guy on the other end of the phone to say "Hi Sam, it's Jack Brabham calling to thank you…" And this was before, during about a ten minute chat, he figured out I was "Fred's pornographer". You can't imagine many of the more modern champions taking the time to personally call and thank someone for receiving something so mundane as a photo in a calendar, even if he did like it. The gratitude and respect he showed us lesser mortals, from everyday fans, to writers, photographers and competitors was what made Sir Jack Brabham stand out from the pack.


  Australia and the motor racing world has lost a true sporting hero who was more than worthy of that title.


  Jack, "Fred's pornographer" salutes you.


Sam Snape


May 24 2014

GOING Ooooooooooooo


   Many years ago when sex was safe and motor racing was dangerous, a band called Blue Oyster Cult released a song that was sort of about the horrors of reincarnation. No, no, no not Godzilla but Joan Crawford (Has Risen from the Grave). And now we have the Formula 1 version.  The whining noise that could be heard reverberating off the hotel walls around the beautiful harbour setting that is Monaco, drowning out the quiet new generation engines - sorry - power units, was not the turbos spinning up. Not the ERS systems storing up all that nice green electricity. No folks - gasp - oh the humanity - Nigel Mansell has risen from the grave…………

   Just give Hamilton a bristling mustache and it would be tricky to tell the difference. Ooooo Nico had a posh upbringing…..Oooooo Nico cheated in qualifying…….Ooooo Nico errr -  the team wouldn't let me pit………….Oooooo My eye hurts…………..Ooooo must have been one of those bristling mustache hairs getting in  my eye….Oooooo Nico isn't my friend anymore……….Ooooo my cars made out of plasticine……….Ooooo my team has put me on the wrong strategy…..Oooooo my legs fell off.  Etc etc. Can't wait for him to fall out of the car and collapse in apparent exhaustion after overcoming all those impossible odds that all of the creatures in the universe have strewn in his path.

   Seriously, does the New Nige really expect us to believe that Nico cheated? He's seen the data …. well so did the stewards and they didn't come to the same conclusion. If he has other evidence he should take it to the FIA, if not he should just shut the fuck up and get on with what he is paid to do. Would the New Nige be whining if Nico had made that error while Hamilton was at the top of the time-sheets? No of course not. The New Nige just has to face the fact that Nico was simply faster than him on the day and get over it because the more he whines the more Rosberg will know he is getting under his skin and winning the mind war.

   Just like last year Rosberg was in imperious form at Monaco where he overcame his team-mate's slightly superior natural speed with his own slightly superior racing nous. Much like an aging Lauda versus a faster Prost or an older Prost versus a faster Senna a cerebral approach and superior ability to set up a car can make up for a deficit in outright pace. Whether Nico can convert this into a championship win over the New Nige like Lauda and Prost did remains to be seen but so far he is putting a very good challenge together. And as with Lauda and Prost, Nico and New Nige's team is letting them get on with it to win or lose the title on the track. We may not get too many different winners this year but I don't think we will get too many boring races.    

   Surprisingly just shutting up – at least in public – and getting on with it is mostly what Sebastian Vettel is doing as he attempts to deal with a situation that he really is not used to. He no longer has the fastest car and – for the moment at least – he is no longer the fastest driver in the team. As Mark Webber can attest, it is pretty damned difficult to out-qualify and out-race Vettel on a regular basis, even when he isn’t benefiting from a blown floor, but that is precisely what Smiley Dan is doing. Five – one in both qualifying and races with Vettel only edging him out at Sepang so far. Although Seb has been closer to Smiley Dan in the last couple of races, the young West Australian is riding a wave of confidence and is seemingly able to respond to anything that Vettel can come up with. It can’t last forever of course and one of these days Vettel will best his team-mate and it will be very interesting to see how the team dynamic plays out from that point on. Seb is also discovering just how much of a bitch life can be when Lady Luck is looking in another direction. Or perhaps we are still underestimating just how good Smiley Dan really is.

   Luck? Good management? A liberal dose of both saw minnows Marussia claim their first points with Bianchi finishing in ninth place at Monaco and leap ahead of Sauber in the championship standings. Both Sauber drivers assisted this situation by crashing out of the race, indeed when Gutierrez dropped it at La Rascasse it promoted Bianchi into the points. Sure there were plenty of retirements to boost the Maurssia up the leader-board but their race pace was reasonable and Bianchi finished ahead of Grosjean’s Lotus on merit. The five second penalty for serving a previous stop and go penalty during a safety car period was all that dropped him behind in the final classification. Unless Caterham, who finished with a best result so far of 11th, can snatch a few fortunate points somewhere this season then this result will be worth around thirty to forty million dollars when the prize fund is divvied up come Christmas time. A bloody good little earner indeed. I don’t hear them going Oooooooooooo…………….

Sam Snape







  It’s been a while since I was able to get from my side of the world to the wonders of a Goodwood race meeting although I love the Revival it was almost the huge crowds as much as my finances or the ruined knee that kept me away. So when the good Lord announced a members only meeting I was instantly salivating – Pavlov pooch style. Not only was there the prospect of an uncrowded Revival type meeting but also the chance to see some of the first F1 cars I ever saw in action, those insane Group B rally cars and some of the sexiest Le Mans sports cars ever built. Hook, Line and sinker………..

Glorious Porsche 917 LH












  There was some disquiet over the Northern winter as huge storms lashed the South of England leaving huge swathes of it flooded and I wondered if the meeting, set down for the early part of spring, would be either very, very wet or even take place at all. I know I shouldn’t have worried as Lord March again laid on some stunning early spring weather along with the usual incredible racing spectacular. His concept seems to be, be exceptionally professional but not to take anything too seriously. Goodwood race meetings are about not only providing brilliant racing but having as much fun as possible, sometimes in the silliest way possible. Even having the local hunt anf their hounds open the track on Saturday morning. The dogs enjoyed it as much as the crowd.




  All members were allocated to “houses” so they could join the drivers in some form of competition throughout the weekend so if you were not racing you could earn points by showing your skill on the skid-pan towing boats or caravans (almost serious), Martini mixing (Silly and I pity the judge) or welly whanging (VERY silly – England’s version of thong throwing) or any number of weird and wonderful events.


 The hunt opened the track on Saturday


  After the racing on the Saturday evening a short carnival was put on in the infield with everything from rides and dancing to oompah bands playing AC/DC (again VERY silly but bloody good fun) and ending with a spectacular fireworks display.







  The non-racing motoring highlights were the demonstrations of those brutal 1980s turbocharged F1 monsters and the Low-drag Le Mans Sportscars. Some of the advertised starters were a no-show but that didn’t detract from the display. Niki Lauda’s 1984 championship winning McLaren MP4/2, several of Senna’s Lotus’s and Tolemans, some very rare Arrows A9s and the very pretty Alfa Romeo 183T decked out in the Benetton livery that it ran in during pre-season testing in 1984.


 The ex-Niki Lauda McLaren MP4/2










  And the Le Mans sportscars. Well who could ever go past a Martini liveried Porsche 917 without drooling. Or a martini Liveried Lancia LC2 for that matter. Or hear the wail of a Matra V12 without getting an erection? Oh God…………Let alone a Rothmans Porsche 956 or a Rondeau or an Aston Martin or a Ferrari 512 or………..you get the idea.




  Also we were treated to a Rally sprint for those loonie Group B cars that made heroes of such legends as Ari Vatanen, Marku Alen, Walter Rohrl and Henri Toivonen etc. The Audi Quattro Sports Evo 2, Lancia 037s and Delta S4s, a Renault 5 Maxi Turbo, a Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 2, a pair of Ford RS200s and a brace of MG Metro GR4s. Single lap sprints were just not enough. More please next time.


 Walter Rohrl's Audi Quattro











  And of course there was the racing. Ahhhh the racing. Saturdays delights were rounded out by the first of the Gerry Marshall Trophy races for 1970’s to early 80’s touring cars which featured a stunning drive from the back of the field to second place by ex-F1 star Emanuele Pirro in a Ford Capri and then a Formula Junior race dominated by the squabbling U2s of Will Mitcham and ray Mallock. Finally there was the Stirling Moss Trophy for late 50’s-early 60’s sportscars that ran into the evening darkness which saw Wolfgang Friedrichs/Simon Hadfield’s Aston Martin DB4 GT edge out the unique Lotus 11 GT “Breadvan” of Joe Twyman and Oliver Bryant by just over half a second after an hour of intensely close racing.




  Sundays fare began with the Tony Gaze Trophy for 1950’s production sports and GT cars which was taken out by Andy Shepherd in an AC Ace after a late “off” by Max Girado in his Ferrari 250 GT and contained not only numerous Astons and Jags but the unique Bentley R-Type “Gooda” Special. Next up was the Sears Trophy which saw the continuation of the period battle between the older, larger and more powerful cars such as the Mark 2 Jaguars and the more nimble Ford Cortinas and Minis. No real surprise, with the élan that they were driven, that it was a Mini in the hands of Nick Swift who took the flag from the Cortina of Neil Brown. The Clark-Stewart Cup was an interesting time capsule where the race, as often in period, was a mix of F1,2 and 3 machinery and it was not a pukka F1 car that won, it was the Cooper T71/73 with it’s 4 cylinder Ford engine that claimed victory for Sam Wilson, almost 20 seconds to the good from the Lotus 24 BRM of Paul Drayson.

Andrew Beaumont in a Lotus 24



  For many the highlight was the Grover-Williams Trophy which saw the largest gathering of pre-war Bugattis since God alone knows when with 25 of the beautiful little beasties taking the start. but the race descended into a very easy win for Charles Knill-Jones in a T35B once the much bigger T59/50 of Gunther Krumpl pulled out with low fuel pressure. It was hard to know if it was the thundering sound of the winning Kurtis 500S of Geraint Owen or the lovely Mercedes 300SL Gullwing (lent out by the Mercedes Museum) driven with his usual panache by Jochen Mass was the best bit of the Peter Collins Trophy but I’ll go with the Merc – just.


 The thundering Chevy Camaro almost won


  The second Gerry Marshall Trophy race should have been an easy win to the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 of Stuart Graham and Nigel Garrett however a stuff-up over the timing of the mandatory pitstop which meant a drive through penalty and saw the Rover 3500 SDI of Chris Ward and Andrew Smith again hold out the Ford Capri of Emanuele Pirro and John Young by just over a second.


 Who could resist a Ford GT40 squabble?




My personal favourite was the Surtees Trophy for the “big banger” sports prototypes of the mid sixties with a brace of Ford GT40s battling it out with the Lola T70s and early McLarens. Eventually the McLaren M1B Chevy of Chris Goodwin took the honours from Jon Minshaw’s Lola T70 Spyder in what can only be described as the best aural experience short of a Formula 5000 race. The Brabham Trophy may have been won by Gary Pearson’s BRM P25 after Roger Wills Cooper T51 broke it’s transmission on the final lap but it was the sublime Maserati 250Fs duelling away that was a sight to behold. There were no fewer than six of the type in the race although unfortunately the V12 version did not take the start. And finally the Salvadori Cup saw the usual titanic tussle between the Listers, Lotus’s, D Type Jags, Ferrari Testarossas and Maserati Birdcages before finally Andrew Smith in a Lister Knobbly Chevrolet took the weekends last victory.


 Or that of Maserati 250Fs?


  Another triumph for the organisers from the GRRC which I am sure will build as big a reputation in time as the Revival meeting and the Festival of Speed and give Lord March and his gang the three most prestigious historic race meetings in the world each year. Once the word gets out just how good a weekend this was I can’t see this years slow ticket sales being repeated. It’s possibly a pity as that means the crowds will get bigger and the ease of movement and access created by the smaller crowd was one of the reasons I will be more likely to go all the way back to another Members Meeting than the Revival in the future.




  Goodwood on a sunny day – just bliss.


 Bentley Type-R Gooda Special










The start of the Grover-Williams Trophy












Ferrari 246S Dino












Spectacular dusk racing with the Lotus 11 Breadvan













Jochen Mass in the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing












Sam Snape