Garry Rogers Motorsport has stunned the world of Supercars by dumping veteran and former champion Garth Tander for the 2019 season, all but certainly ending his full-time driving career.
The 41-year-old only recently spoke of how he was planning to scale back on his extra-curricular racing outside of Supercars so he can focus solely on the series this year.
However, if he is to do that then it will no longer be with GRM after they announced Richie Stanaway as his replacement after he was in turn dropped by Tickford Racing in December, despite having a year still left of his contract.
Tander was set to be the oldest person on the starting grid this year following the retirement of Craig Lowndes and revealed in a recent interview with Supercars.com that he was jokingly warned to not quit by Garry Rogers following the Holden legend’s announcement.
“Straight after Craig’s announcement in Townsville, Garry came and found me and the first thing he said to me was ‘don’t get any ideas!’” he said last month. “They told me they want me to hang around for a bit longer.”
However it turns out not too much longer and despite the two parties’ agreement to prolong their relationship Tander now finds himself out of the door.
Lowndes’ amazing career
In an official statement, Tander said about the decision: “I’m grateful for the start that Garry gave me in Supercars and understand his decision to end my full-time driving career. I’m now going to take a deep breath and consider my future that won’t be at GRM. I wish the team well for the future.”
Rogers himself expressed his regret at not being able to give Tander a hero’s send-off similar to the one Lowndes received with the 2007 champion instead being shuffled out the back door during the off-season.
“It obviously comes as a surprise to most that Garth will not be driving at GRM in 2019,” he said. “On Garth’s return to GRM in 2017 he was guaranteed two years of full-time driving and a management role following that.
“There were many aspects to my decision including that Garth was nearing the end of his career and has expressed that 2019 could be his final full-time season as a driver.
“I was very conscious of the fact that I would be both the one that started and ended Garth’s full-time Supercar career and this weighed heavily on me.
“In a perfect world I would absolutely have loved to give Garth the send-off that a champion deserves, but I never lost sight that motorsport, although centred around the driver, is about the team and not any one individual.”
Stanaway will join James Golding this season while the team also announced Boost Mobile will continue as their naming-rights partner in a new multi-year deal.
As revealed by Dave Reynolds on Fox Motorsport’s The Loud Pedal podcast, the main motivation for Betty shifting one of the RECs is so that Ryan can begin going to the team owners’ meetings and have a say in the decision-making process that goes on in Supercars.
Despite what was previously suggested, Klimenko’s husband Daniel is not involved in the ownership of the second REC.
“It’s weird that Daniel would have a part in it because he’s married to Betty so wouldn’t half be his anyway?” Reynolds joked.
“I think the whole idea of that was that Barry wasn’t allowed to go to any of the team owners’ meetings because he wasn’t a team owner.
“So they’ve just made him a team owner effectively so he can go on her behalf as proxy. But now he’s an actual team owner so he can have say in and buy in to all the chat that goes on.”
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– Co-host Lee Holdsworth & Dave Reynolds on SILLY SEASON, PENSKE POWER and DRUNKEN XMAS PARTIES
Having done my best to deliver some words and explanations in commentary for the French Grand Prix I missed the best part whilst walking into the pits to ready myself to interview the top three drivers.
Or more commonly known as the two Mercedes drivers and the other bloke. Thankfully they were to a large extent much happier than when I had the job in Canada two weeks before.
The action I missed was the great four-way scrap between Lando Norris impressively surviving car issues, with Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg pursuing him like the wounded animal he was with ailing hydraulics, and all the ramifications of that in today’s F1 cars. Throttle, gearshift, power steering, differential, and drag-reduction rear wing, for example.
Ricciardo without doubt did run all four wheels off the track whilst going around the outside of Norris, and was also rather rude, without even a thought for ‘mirror signal manoeuvre’ whilst rejoining the particular piece of tarmac defined as the racetrack among the many other zones.
Daniel Ricciardo ‘forgets’ he was racing Romain Grosjean
But he wasn’t finished yet. As the cunning Kimi R charged past the pair of them, Ricciardo pumped up his Renault motor in the slipstream of the Alfa Romeo and passed him far to the right, which is a zone formerly known as sun-baked gravel.
I remember passing Eddie Cheever there long before Norris was born, with my thumb pressed hard on my turbo overboost button of my Tyrrell-Renault turbo. Outrageously risky on my part, but I’m still proud of it today, even though nobody noticed. Or cared, apart from Cheever.
Today it’s all immaculately manicured and not defined as racetrack. And now that the Stewards are bound by regulation and increasing precedent to act more like traffic wardens than referees, Ricciardo was frankly bound to be handed two five-second penalties, and removal from world championship points in 11th.
The problem here is not the drivers but the track, as Sergio Perez found out during the opening lap. He lost the back end in the second chicane and duly took the scenic route around the penalty bollard to rejoin.
This turned out to be faster than the fuel-laden cars cautiously squabbling over track position. Now anybody who has sat deep inside a current F1 car knows that, along with seat belts and HANS neck protection device, peeping over the headrest and trying to work out where you should obliquely slot back into a pack of F1 cars in a hurry is, shall we say, pretty much impossible.
Nevertheless, Perez had gained a lasting advantage of two places, and a temporary five-second penalty until his next pit stop when it could be patiently unwound before work commenced. He needed to have backed off to the position he was when he went off, if he could have remembered in the melee or his team could have seen. Or preferably have stayed on track in the first place.
One of the more remarkable yet most annoying facts was that on lap 53 Lewis Hamilton on twenty-nine lap old tyres delivered a time of 1:32.764. On the same lap, on fresh tyres, Sebastian Vettel determinedly stole the fastest lap world championship point with a 1.32.740.
Hamilton and Mercedes are just playing with the opposition like a cat with a ball of wool. I’m not saying it’s easy, because F1 is not, but they have reserves of speed yet and we are not seeing-flat out racing.
Which makes it even more painful that Ferrari took many of their updated aero parts off the car because they weren’t better. They didn’t close the gap to a cruising Mercedes around Paul Ricard. Vettel and Charles Leclerc drove fine races, the latter almost catching Valtteri Bottas on the final lap after the Virtual Safety Car was deployed due to an errant bollard. Which rather sums up the race.
Bottas needs to urgently find that guy with wild eyes who I interviewed as the winner at the end of the Australian Grand Prix, and invite him back into the cockpit. Lewis has the clear upper hand and he hasn’t even reached the summer break yet, after which he tends to get really fast.
It was great to see McLaren on such strong form and, just as with Williams, it doesn’t seem like proper F1 when they’re in the doldrums and populating the rear of the grid. With the right people and a great combo of drivers in place I’m pretty sure McLaren will go from strength to strength over the next couple of years.
Max Verstappen drove yet another fine if lonely race for Red Bull. They are tantalisingly close to the pace but not close enough to add to our entertainment much. At some point, Verstappen is going to lose patience, but probably not before Red Bull lose theirs with an underperforming Pierre Gasly in the other car.
I’ve been in Pierre’s position up against Schumacher and Hakkinen as teammates. It’s confidence-sapping and nothing seems to fall your way either, creating a spiral of lost confidence. I used to hit rock bottom and rebound nicely ‘with nothing to lose’ and so must he.
As I’ve said before, if the race victory and world championship lead was being fought out amongst the midfield we’d all be on the edge of our seats. But it isn’t. I’ve commentated on worse races, but that wasn’t great entertainment.
If you read my columns regularly, you will know my thoughts on the future of F1 after the Spanish GP. The drivers do have various portals to feed in opinion and ideas which have always been under-utilised, but Lewis is right, the drivers can’t also drive the format, rules, regulations and finances of F1. Others have the resource and empowerment to do that.
Next up is the picturesque Austrian GP which I’m very much looking forward to.
This article was originally published on Sky Sports and reproduced with permission.
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has stoked the flames with rivals McLaren by claiming Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg were just as fast as them during the French Grand Prix, despite both drivers losing out to their counterparts.
McLaren surprised everyone with their speed at Paul Ricard in practice – Ricciardo even jokingly suggested they had “secret upgrades” – before qualifying fifth and sixth for the race, compared to Renault’s eighth and 13th.
In the race, Carlos Sainz ran off alone to secure P6 while Lando Norris was plagued by a series of problems in the closing laps which saw both Hulkenberg and Ricciardo overtake him – although the latter was penalised for his moves to drop him to P11.
Daniel Ricciardo ‘forgets’ he was racing Romain Grosjean
Renault and McLaren share the same power unit and are the two teams most likely to be pushing for that ‘best of the rest’ spot at the end of the season, but Abiteboul stressed his team had a superior race pace in France.
“It’s an OK result, being in the points is good, but we are targeting more points than that,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.
“We’ve seen that we are just as quick if not quicker than McLaren when not held back, but obviously McLaren was so much faster in qualifying, and that’s what matters the most in current F1.
“On different compounds and on the longer runs we are much more competitive against them and the rest of the field. That’s going to be the focus in Austria, where probably it’s going to be extremely hot, and we know the track can be extremely damaging for the tyres.
“McLaren is a good brand, they are a car maker, which matters to us. They are our partner and customer team, so their success is also coming from our contribution. That’s good and positive, and it’s also showing on the chassis side what’s possible.
“Having said that we are not miles away, and we were much faster than them in Montreal. What I expect is to see an interesting battle with McLaren for the remainder of the season.
“They are ahead, only the points matter, only the Sunday result matters. We put ourselves after qualifying, looking at the qualifying, but looking at the race, it’s much more on par.
“But again the only thing that matters in modern F1 is firstly the points and secondly the qualifying, because it’s so difficult to overtake, either because of the aerodynamics or the current stance of the FIA on these things.”