Hello everybody, Formula Virtual is back! We’re here in Melbourne ahead of this weekend’s Australian V-Prix, round one of the 2018 season. Joining us today on the back row are Rai Miyamoto of Ocelot Japan Racing and Alex Easton of Phoenix Motorsport. On the front row we have Jamie Franklin of Franklin, Robert Mathershaw of DS Mathershaw, and Bradley Downton of Downton FV Team.
Rodolfo de la Fuente will continue as the Franklin reserve driver, the team have confirmed ahead of the opening round of the season.
Neither team nor driver were available for further comment.
Ocelot Japan Racing who recently changed from their previous name of Pegasus, have finally revealed what the final car will look like just week away from the start of the season. The Engine supplier has finally also been revealed that the team will remain in the FCA family, but this time dropping Maserati in favour of Alfa Romeo, in order to keep the team from re-branding fully.
''We were extremely close with moving to Porsche or Audi but in the end, FCA decided that they would be willing to allow us to drop the Re-Brand in order to save our identity. We are now a Semi-Works team and hope this can be a real good season for us. I can also confirm that we have a technical partnership with Franklin, who have been very helpful in this tough period.''
North Star team principal Nick Forrest has commended the decisions of Formula Virtual CEO Nic Morley in a recent interview, discussing the rumoured controversy surrounding recently introduced rules governing teams' development and research.
"I don't think it was at crisis levels," Forrest told the reporter earlier this morning. "It was more concern over the wording of the regulations, a few teams had interpreted them differently and wanted clarification over them."
The debate is presumed to have taken place in the evenings during the four days of pre-season testing at Estoril the past week. "I'm obviously not going to name names," Forrest said when pressed for more information, "but I think Nic definitely did the right thing, putting the sport first over any one team."
"We've seen in other categories, you can have one or two of the bigger, perhaps more long-running teams having the ear of the people in charge, and getting changes imposed that would fit their agenda," he went on to say. "I'm quite glad to be part of a sport where that doesn't happen, though, and which seems to be in good hands for the future."
Paul Ricard, France
Despite announcing sponsorship from Stella Artois and revealing their livery in 2018, the DS Mathershaw team today held a test session at the Paul Ricard circuit with a revised colour scheme, followed by a press conference from Team Principal Arthur Lapierre.
"We started the season with our livery launch and the announcement of sponsorship from Stella Artois, but the situation has changed in the past few weeks. While we have always been factory supported, the amount of support from DS Automobiles has been ramped up over the winter, and both them and the team felt it was time to show this support. As a result, the team will carry our signature red colour alongside the branding of DS Automobiles."
"Due to European alcohol laws, particularly in France, Stella Artois would not have been present on the car for many of the rounds during the season, so we have reprofiled our partnership - Stella Artois remains the Official Lager of DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw."
Alongside the increased presence of DS Automobiles, Matmut and Air France remain on board, while the PSA Banque brand will also appear on the car. Notably, the car also features a shark fin, with the change accepted by the FVA on the premise that the original specification will be maintained.
Defending Champions Nathaniel Powers and Downton topped the final day of pre-season testing with a run on the super softs to set what also turned out to be the quickest time of the entire test.
Holmqvist topped pre-season testing for the second day in a row - this time in the hands of Tumo Kinnumen - but the Finn was only just quicker than a scintillating lap from Olen Inman.
After running a full-black livery on Day 1, Lopez have finally revealed their challenger for the 2018 season on the morning of Day 2 at the pre-season test in Estoril.
Will Hoskins gave Swedish outfit Holmqvist a lot to cheer about with their new engine manufacturer as he topped the times on day two of pre-season testing, albeit on the super soft tyres.
DS Mathershaw reserve driver Thierry Xylander has topped the first day of pre-season testing at Estoril, setting a 1:15.184 on the soft tyres to go just over a tenth and a half fastest than Enrique Ruiz in the Franklin.
In some unexpected turn of events, Ocelot which were re-branded as Pegasus have decided in dropping the name and instead have revealed a new logo with the Old team name returning. Many believe the old name returning points to signs of a potential fallout with Maserati, but currently Ocelot and Pegasus are both refusing to comment on the situation.
Rai Miyamoto had the following to say in regards to the logo, ''It's lovely isn't it, to be able to keep our old design and yet add something new to it and give it a meaner look. To be able to represent Japan and also have our teams motto of Victory and Honor in Kanji. We are very proud of this one.''
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