Begin your week with the news in brief, as our reporters lift the bonnet on all-things motorsport
James Attwood, digital editor
2 December 2019

In this week's round-up of motorsport news and gossip, Citroën blames Ogier switch for shock World Rally Championship exit, Albon gets nod from Red Bull, an old dog wins new races and Nascar gets more electrifying than usual.

We also name the week's rising star, and highlight some of the greatest machinery ever to enter a motor race. 

Citroën's Ogier blame game

Citroën has sensationally laid the blame for its withdrawal from the World Rally Championship on Sébastien Ogier following his decision to switch to Toyota.

The six-time consecutive champion rejoined Citroën for 2019, but had a tempestuous season as Toyota’s Ott Tänak beat him to the title. The move to axe the programme was expected, but it was thought the PSA Group’s focus on its Formula E attack with DS and forthcoming Peugeot sports car return would be blamed. Instead, the firm said that “without Sébastien Ogier and without any first-class driver available to fight for a world title, Citroën takes the decision to withdraw”. CEO Linda Jackson added: “We obviously have not wished this situation, but could not imagine 2020 without Sébastien.”

Rally Australia cancelled

Rally Australia, which was set to be the final round of this year’s WRC, was cancelled due to bush fires in New South Wales. Instead, drivers, teams and event organisers aided the fire relief effort, organising a charity auction and making substantial donations. The cancellation meant that Hyundai secured its first WRC makes’ title.

Albon gets his reward

A late-race clash with Lewis Hamilton in the Brazilian GP might have cost Alex Albon his first F1 podium, but some good news for the Anglo-Thai driver: he’s been confirmed to stay at Red Bull in 2020. Albon had switched to the team from Toro Rosso mid-season, instantly impressing with his pace.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Life in the old dog

Former British Touring Car Champion Yvan Muller is in contention to win the World Touring Car Cup – at the ripe age of 50. The Frenchman, who already has four World Touring Car titles to his name, won a brace of races at the Macau street track to leave him just 11 points behind Hyundai’s series leader Norbert Michelisz and two adrift of Honda’s Esteban Guerrieri with a round to go. But if he succeeds, Muller won’t be the series’ oldest champ. Last year, Gabriele Tarquini won the title at the age of 56.

Stock cars to go hybrid?

Nascar will feature some level of electrified powertrain in new cars being readied for 2021. The stock car series is known for its rumbling V8s, but series boss Steve Phelps said some electrification was needed to ensure it was “relevant” for Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota. But he added “we’re not going to have a bunch of [full] electric cars going around”, which will be bad news for Jackson Storm fans (look him up…).

Rising star

Richard Verschoor: This 18-year-old Dutchman was only 13th in the FIA Formula 3 Championship this season and was dropped by the brutal Red Bull young driver scheme back in 2017. So why is he on this page? Because he’s just won the Macau F3 Grand Prix, the most prestigious junior single-seater race in the world – and, deliciously, did so by passing and defeating one of Red Bull’s current highly rated prospects, Jüri Vips. Verschoor started fourth and found himself battling for the lead with Vips, before pulling off a tidy late-braking move at the daunting street circuit’s famous Lisboa corner. Anyone who can do that and then win at one of the toughest street tracks in the world, on his first visit, has to be worth a second look – wouldn’t you agree, Red Bull?

Great racing cars

Lotus 49, 1967-1970: Colin Chapman’s masterpiece (well, one of them) brought us the Ford-Cosworth V8 DFV, as a fully stressed member on a monocoque chassis. Added to that, when Jim Clark gave it a winning debut at Zandvoort, the 49s were painted in British Racing Green and had no hint of an aerofoil. By the time the 49Bs bowed out in privateer hands four seasons later, they sported garish liveries representing commercial sponsors and had sprouted rudimentary wings as the penny dropped on downforce. It took a dozen GP wins and carried Graham Hill to the 1968 drivers’ title.


Hamilton behind the helmet: A study of an F1 icon

New power generation: The young drivers making their mark on motorsport

Aston Martin launches new one-make racing series

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week