The final standings indicate Downton had far and away the biggest performance advantage ever seen during the 2017 season, but was that the case?
Their gap at the start of the season was much more pronounced than at the end as a number of teams started to come into the battle, but the teams towards the back were static throughout.
In the last of this series of articles we will take a look at how team mates fared against each other in the teams that finished in the top three in the Championship.
Franklin switched Jochem van Snelheid out for Puccio Giodano after just three races - but how did the Italian fare against the mighty Enrique Ruiz? And both top two teams in the Championship ran rookies, but did they struggle against far more experienced team mates?
In this series of articles we will take a look at how team mates fared against each other in the teams that finished fourth through to sixth in the Championship.
Both North Star and FIRST switched a driver halfway through the season, but was this the right call? Will Westwood regret letting Tumo Kinnumen go? And which driver was the only one in 2017 to not be beaten at all in qualifying?
In this series of articles we will take a look at how team mates fared against each other in the teams that finished seventh through to ninth in the Championship.
Were Holmqvist right to ditch both of their drivers before the mid-point of the season, and which driver had the most convincing win over his team mate in 2017?
In this series of articles we will take a look at how team mates fared against each other in the teams that finished tenth through to thirteenth in the Championship.
Which of Ocelots plethora of drivers proved the strongest, and which teams drivers ended up exactly level in every aspect?
A piece of Formula Virtual history will soon be going under the hammer, as North Star Racing have donated the broken front wing from Karl Beckenbauer's race-winning NSR-V02 to a motorsport-themed charity auction taking place at the end of the year.
Middleton, Greater Manchester, UK – Phoenix Motorsport confirm Carson Davenport, Sergio Alvarez and James Thompson as 2018 drivers in a press conference at the teams’ HQ.
Team Principal Alex Easton: “Good morning everyone, thank you for attending our little session today. Let’s crack on, shall we? So, as I’m sure quite a few people have already guessed and speculated, Carson Davenport will be joining us on a two year deal from 2018. Driving alongside him will be Sergio Alvarez, on a season long loan from Westwood Racing. Come on up here guys!”
Carson Davenport and Sergio Alvarez emerge to take their seats at the desk, along with Westwood Racing team principal Harry Westwood
AE: “As soon as we were granted our entry into Formula Virtual, the most obvious choice for one of our seats was Carson. He’s one of the very few guys to have been competing in Formula Virtual since the series’ inception in 2013 and has immense talent, as proven by his two wins, three poles and seven podiums. Then it came to deciding on who would partner Carson, Harry Westwood called me to congratulate me on our acceptance into the top level of the sport and, long story short, we came to a deal which worked perfectly for all parties involved!
Finally, it gives me great pleasure to announce that our reserve driver for 2018 will be James Thompson. Come up here James!”
James Thompson takes his seat at the desk, alongside Alvarez
AE: “James has been with us in FV3 in 2016, and FV2 in the season just gone. He has been developing well and everyone in the team has grown very fond of him, continuity and stability are things we value very highly here at Phoenix. James still has much to learn but just being around the likes of Carson should help both him and Sergio out massively. Any questions will now be taken by the five of us.”
Reporter: “My question is to Davenport. Carson, what are your thoughts on coming into Phoenix as they start their debut Formula Virtual season?”
Carson Davenport: “Let me first of all say how truly gutted I was when I learned that my old team, FUN, were not going to be continuing in the sport. It was a little bit of a shock as we had plans in place and I’d had 3 full seasons with them so had really made myself at home there! But, reality set in and I quickly realised that with the announcement coming so late in the season, I might have a struggle to find a new team. Thankfully, when Phoenix Motorsport were confirmed as the new thirteenth team, it wasn’t long before I got the call and for me, it wasn’t something I needed long to think about. I’m very much looking forward to settling in here and I’m ready to start a new chapter in my career!”
Reporter: “Hi guys, my question is to Alex. How do you honestly think your team will fare in 2018?”
AE: “Look, we’re not kidding ourselves here. You look back through the history of the sport and see that out of the six new teams since the start of 2014, all of them have had a tough first season. Warrior had two really difficult seasons before changing to Lopez and moving up the grid. Force Australia had a rough first season before becoming AMR. Ocelot have just finished their third consecutive season towards the back, and then there were the three teams who joined for 2016 who all struggled, but have since flown up the grid! So yeah, we fully expect a really hard season in 2018, but we have planned for that.
The main objective for the season is to settle into the sport. We’ve taken on more staff and basically are upgrading the team from a junior series team, into a top tier team, it’s exciting stuff for everyone here!”
Reporter: “I have a question for Sergio Alvarez. Were you hoping for a role within Westwood for 2018? And are you excited to be making your debut in Formula Virtual next year?”
Sergio takes a few seconds to think about the question and answers in broken English
Sergio Alvarez: “Hi. No, I have seen Westwood drivers for 2018, Karl is.. very top driver. Finn, is one of very best young guys here now. And Nikolajis had driven very good end of 2016. I am patient for my chance in Westwood. Harry said, I can come here to Phoenix to prove I am good for Formula Virtual, that is what I want to do. I been here with the team.. since two weeks, everyone is very friendly to me, it is so nice.”
AE: “Yeah poor Sergio has had a bit of a culture shock I must say. In his time in the lower categories he’s been with a number of different teams but I’m pretty sure none of them were quite like us lot! He’s spent the last week or so getting to know a load of Northerners in some pretty damn cold weather here in Manchester! Anyway, he’s been taught some Northern words and it’s been great so far, he’s a top lad.”
Reporter: “And also Harry, how are you hoping Sergio will perform relative to Carson next season, and what’s the reasoning behind this deal for you?”
Harry Westwood: “Well the goal is for Sergio to get some experience at the top level of motorsport, with a great experienced teammate to show him the ropes. Carson’s a great driver and a nice guy, and for this season, just seeing Sergio keep him on his toes would be great, but naturally he’ll be looking to prove he’s the best! As for the reason? Well I had many offers to keep Alvarez in FV2, but I thought Alex and I could help each other out here since there’s nothing better than experience in an FV car, especially learning the cars at the same time as the experienced guys.”
Reporter: “Question for Carson. In 2016, you finished fifth in the standings, ahead of your teammate, the highly rated Will Hoskins! In contrast, last season you were pretty much out performed by Inman. Do you feel under pressure to comprehensively beat Alvarez in 2018?”
CD: “To be fair, Olen was only three points away from being crowned champion ahead of Adrien Simon. Adrien Simon! He’s a very very quick guy and may even give Enrique a run for his money at Franklin next year. Last season wasn’t my best, no, but I don’t feel ashamed to have been slightly outperformed by a talent like him. As for Sergio here, I think it’d be crazy to think that I don’t want to be the guy getting the results for the team, but he’s not been signed for no reason! I’ve seen him in FV2 and Indy Virtual and he’s no pushover. I’m really looking forward to being teammates next year.”
Reporter: “James, given that you’ve been with Phoenix for a couple of years already, were you half expecting to be racing in Formula Virtual in 2018 with them? Or did you think you’d have the reserve role that you’ve been given?”
James Thompson: “Haha, no way! I had one season in FV3, then I moved straight up to FV2 last year so I’ve still got loads to learn! To be honest I was slightly surprised when Alex told me I’d be the reserve driver next year, but I’m buzzing and hope I get some time in the car at some point to help my development!”
AE: “Yeah, making a decision about the reserve driver was a tough call. There were a lot of guys in mind, including Callum Brandon, but he’s signed to our good friends over at Lancashire Racing Team! In the end, we felt it was the best decision for both the team and James to have him as our reserve, whilst continuing in FV2 for 2018. Anyway, I think we’re pretty much done here unless there’s anymore questions?”
Reporter: “One last question Alex. When can we expect to see the first ever Phoenix FV car?”
AE: “We’ve got some very talented guys working on that. We’re not going to rush the PX1 so it’ll be ready when it’s ready. Most likely January! Thank you everyone for coming today!”
As expected torrential rain affected the final qualifying session of the season in Brazil, but for a season record tenth time it was Nathaniel Powers who won out and will start on pole position for tomorrow's title decider.
Downton face a race against time to build Nathaniel Powers a new car ahead of tomorrow's qualifying session for the final race of the season after a heavy accident in the dying minutes of the session wrecked his chassis and left him towards the bottom of the time sheets.
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