Racing into turn 4

Season 3 Race 1: United States Grand Prix West Storylines

Costs, Time Cited in Lack of Testing – In general, the season begins with a testing period, giving the teams a chance to fine tune their planned setups for the season. However, this season’s test session was surprisingly short, with only a half of a lap at Laguna Seca designed more to test qualifying rules than chassis setups. The teams brought home some data, but how will this affect them in their first race of the season?

Everything New Is News Again – The season is about to begin, and a series of new regulations, a brand new team, and two new drivers are going to make this the most interesting season yet. Koenig-RTK Formula D promises to carry on strongly in the wake of L’equipe Duchamp. And to balance out the existing field, new gearbox regulations and the new qualifying session will keep everyone on an even keel. Who will take advantage of these new rules and come out on top in the early season?

Fifth Team Interested in Championship – News has come out recently that there is a fifth team interested in taking part in a limited number of races during the season. Their identity has not been disclosed yet, but reports indicate that they will enter only a few races towards the middle and end of the season in order to test their car for a season 4 bid for the championship. More news on this as it develops.

The cars scramble to get into the first corner as the race commences.

Season 3 Race 1: United States Grand Prix West Introduction

Change has come to the Formula D World Championship. L’equipe Duchamp is gone, replaced by the very German car company that supplied its engines for two years. Now the teams must qualify to earn their grid positions, forcing them to think strategically and drive carefully or risk having to start from the pitlane. Gearboxes are more resilient but more vital than ever, and every team has a different idea on how best to make use of them. With all of these changes in mind, however, the teams return to a track not seen since the very first season. Long Beach, with its incredible straights and winding corners, will prove to be a trial by fire for four teams who performed very limited pre-season testing. Who will deal with the changes best as the United States Grand Prix West begins?

Season 3 United States Grand Prix West race start

Season 3 Introduction

Formula D is a story. The characters are the people, both in the cars and out.

“Caughlin’s engine is on its last legs. Attack now.”

“The new driver at Wright has built up an absurd lead! Focus on defending your position right now.”

“This is your last chance, Richardson. Put down a clean lap.”

The characters are also the cars. Each has its own personality.

“Mic, can you bring it back around to the pits?”
“The car’s doing most of the work at this point.”

“Are you okay, Mariana?”
“The engine gave up! I can’t believe it!”

“Damn! Stalled again!”
“Okay. Just be careful as the grid passes.”

The characters are also the tracks. Every feature has a history and unique flair.

“Be careful at the hairpin. There’s a pack of cars just behind.”

“You can’t go full throttle down the straight or your engine is going to go.”

“Rain’s coming. Don’t take too many chances until you box.”

As with any good characters, personalities clash.

“That idiot Castro rammed me!”

“He’s blocking me on purpose! I can’t get around!”

“Mikhail, Deryl is faster than you. You are NOT racing him right now.”

There are personal battles to overcome.

“McJergens did that on purpose!”
“We’ve already notified the stewards.”

“I can’t get around the debris.”
“Go straight on and pray.”

“It started raining. Do you think you can do this whole lap on dry tires?”
“I don’t have a choice!”

At the end, there can only be one victor.

“Congratulations! You two got the first one-two finish in Formula D history!”

“You just won your first race, Andres! Well done!”

“You did it again, Len! You’re our world champion!”

But when one story ends, another begins.

Season 3 Press Clippings 5

Koenig Announces Team
One of the most anticipated news stories during the off season has been under what banner L’equipe Duchamp would reorganize. It was widely known that the primary stake holder would be Koenig. Now, however, this has been made official. Koenig-RTK Formula D will be rising from the remains of L’equipe Duchamp as the fourth constructor of the season. In addition, it is widely believed that both Mikhail Volkov and Deryl Caughlin will not be reinstated as the team’s drivers. Who will be replacing them as of yet is unknown.

FIM Meeting Codifies New Rules
The addition of a qualifying session to each race, as well as more stringent pit lane rules and brand new gearboxes were among the rules that were instated at the most recent Federation of International Motorsports meeting. More details can be found in the various rule sections of the site, but this season’s changes marks the biggest deviation from the base rules of Formula D yet. Which teams are going to adapt best to these changes remains to be seen, but most sources agree that it will be an exciting season from the start.

Season 3 Press Clippings 4

Drivers Participate in Champions’ Duel Race
Along with several drivers from other racing series, Leonard McGee, Cory Sylvester, and Hossein Esfandiari took part in the annual Champions’ Duel race, this year hosted at the Buddh International Circuit. After a strong qualifying from all three drivers, mechanical problems plagued the Formula D trio. Sylvester had to pit twice to fix engine and gearbox damage, while Esfandiari lost pace dramatically throughout the third lap. McGee was a strong contender for the win until his tires hit a cliff at the start of lap two, forcing cautious pace management and an extended pitstop before the final lap. Still, McGee took third, with Esfandiari in fifth and Sylvester in sixth on a grid of seven cars. “We’re pretty happy just to be here,” Sylvester was quoted as saying. “We did our best, and we pushed the cars well beyond what they were capable of doing. I’m very satisfied.”

Morrano Predicts Relative Pace for Season 3
While Nergal has found great success during the first two championship seasons, many commentators believe their dominance is at an end. “They used up a lot of precious time and resources developing for Season 2,” said Rubens Morrano of the Formula D-Brief podcast. “They’re going to start the third season on the back foot, while Wright and Centurion are going to surge forward. It’ll probably be worse than this season, and if they can catch up it won’t be for a number of races.”

When asked about the changes L’equipe Duchamp are facing, Morrano said, “It’s hard to tell where they’ll fall. They’re restructuring, but with all of the Koenig money flowing in it’s not going to be a complete wash. I predict they’ll actually be stronger than Nergal depending on their driver lineup. Right now Volkov is the weak link, while Nergal has the advantage of two driver champions to see them through their early teething troubles. Even if Wright and Centurion dominate, my favorite rivalry will continue to be the Nergal/L’equipe Duchamp battle.”

Morrano continued with his predictions, stating, “Wright is my favorite for the Constructors Championship this season. They would’ve beaten Nergal by a landslide last year if they had led with Esfandiari and Castillo. Their car was always there, and while the two newbies had some bad accidents at first, that was down to their inexperience. By the end of the season they were turning laps faster than the experienced veterans. I think if Wright’s car is anything as good as last season’s, it should be their championship.”

“Drivers are a little bit more of a mixed bag. McGee is strong right now, and he’s much more hotheaded than his dethroned teammate, so he’ll likely push hard and try to defend his title. Unfortunately that means he’ll probably retire more often, so it’ll be a delicate balance. Frankly, my money is on Caughlin this season, assuming L’equipe Duchamp’s new owners maintain him (and frankly I think they will). Another candidate of mine is McJergens, to be honest. He made a lot of early mistakes out of haste defending his title last season, but by the end he was doing brilliantly. He and Volkov are the only two drivers to have started every race of the Formula D World Championship, so his experience is definitely a factor too. We’ll have to wait and see if any of the other drivers surprise me.”

Finally, when asked the relative strength of each team, Morrano stated, “I still believe Wright is in the strongest position going into the season. Nergal is there as well, but they spent so much time developing for last season that they may be a bit behind car-wise. Their advantage is that the regulations for certain aspects of the car are changing, so everyone’s going to have to find balance. Centurion might not be able to play as strongly because Koenig sold their stake in the team and are now just supplying engines, but Sylvester is a fast driver when he’s not crashing, and Michelle is consistent enough to cover his teammate. The team formerly known as L’equipe Duchamp is a bit of a wildcard because they’re being so tight-lipped. We don’t even know what banner they’re reorganizing under at this point, so it’s hard to say. I feel they’re near the bottom as far as team strength goes, and development-wise they probably followed Nergal in developing primarily for the season finale, but with all that sweet sweet Koenig money pouring in they might surprise us all.”

Morrano concluded, saying, “Whatever happens, I believe that this season’s going to blow the heart-stopping moments of Season 2 out of the water.”

Season 3 Press Clippings 3

Wright, Nergal Plan Special Home Race Celebrations
The season break has given the teams time to plan out their seasons in more detail as well as allowing them to take a more active role in publicizing themselves. With Wright and Nergal the only two teams with a home race on the calendar (though presumably Koenig’s acquisition of L’equipe Duchamp will see the team move from France to Germany), both are planning on celebrating their respective home races. Wright’s plans have not solidified, as Indianapolis is comparatively far into the future, but Nergal recently announced that they would be running a custom livery for the Bahrain Grand Prix. “It’s a chance to show off a little for the home crowd,” team principal Jim Robinson said recently. “While we’re hoping for the results to follow, I think that a celebration of the team’s home race will be excellent for morale.”

Formula D Too “American” Critics Argue
For the first time ever, there are more American races on the calendar than ones in Europe, the ancestral home of motorsport. While certainly no one in the paddock has ever complained about the location of any of the races, Edgar Gray of Rev Counter Magazine’s latest article criticizes the move. “Just because the tracks are there doesn’t mean you have to use them,” he stated. “We don’t need another American racing series. That’s why people watch IndyChamp. Americans only care about two things anyway–turning left and keeping the accelerator to the floor for 500 miles.” While no official response from anyone involved in the management of Formula D as a franchise is likely to come forth, Chuck Houston, team principal of Wright, was quoted as saying, “America has a long and rich tradition of motorsport. That man is speaking from ignorance and suffering from the illusion that it matters what continent a great track sits on. Maybe if he spent more time at the track than in that office of his in London he’d know better–or he’s just bitter we haven’t graced his island with our presence yet. Who knows?”

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