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F1H2O Teams Ready For Season-Opening Race On Indonesia’s Lake Toba

Following the exciting news announced last week that H2O Racing signed an agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery to broadcast live action and highlights of the 2023 Union Internationale Motonautique F1H2O World Championship across Europe and Asia through television coverage on Eurosport and streaming on discovery+* and the Eurosport App, the F1H2O teams are ready and eager to kick off the 2023 season as the series makes its first visit to Indonesia.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente is ready to kick off the 2023 season this week in Indonesia. Photo courtesy Vittorio Ubertone/F1H2O

It’s only been a couple of months since Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente secured his third world title in Sharjah, UAE, in December and the American driver, along with 19 other drivers representing 10 different teams, is excited to return to the racecourse starting with Friday’s practice sessions during the Kopiko Grand Prix of Indonesia.

Torrente, who is joining forces once again with veteran Emirati driver Thani Al Qemzi, said he is looking forward to racing in Indonesia for the first time, especially since the 2,218-meter circuit for Sunday’s opening round in North Sumatra is set on the volcanic Lake Toba, which was created by a huge eruption 70,000 years ago and has an island almost the size of Singapore at its center.

The Florida native who began the 2022 season with back-to-back victories and added two more podium finishes en route to his third championship added that the return of Dubai’s Victory Team is another welcome development as the championship breaks new ground in Indonesia, the 40th country to host a race in the history of the championship.

“My favorite thing about Formula One is that it’s never easy,” said Torrente, who edged out Sweden’s Jonas Andersson for the drivers’ title after a tense finale in Sharjah and expects more of the same this season. “I dominated for three quarters of last season, but it was still so close at the end because a couple of things didn’t go our way, with engine problems and a crash.

“You never know in this championship,” he added. “You’ve got to take every race as it comes and get every point you can. I’d love to have the same start as I had last season, but that’s not my standard, it’s our team standard. We expect to win every race that we show up for. We prepare well, we have a great team and obviously we have a track record of success with five consecutive F1H2O team titles, so we expect to compete for a victory everywhere we go.”

The paddock is taking shape in Indonesia, check out the update here.

Torrente is relishing the challenge ahead, and in particular the “inter country UAE battle” with Victory Team’s Erik Stark and Emirati Ahmed Al-Fahim, and Sharjah Team’s Sami Seliö and Ferdinand Zandbergen.

“It’s going to be really difficult because there’s a lot of challengers this season, and Jonas is going to want the title back,” Torrente said. “I’m happy to see the Victory Team return. They’re back with a good solid team of engineers and mechanics who understand Formula One.

“Erik’s a great driver, and Al Fahim is an up-and-coming star,” he continued. “It’s great to have that little bit of rivalry and it gives the UAE more chances to be on the podium with us, Sharjah and Victory in the hunt.”

Sharjah Team driver and two-time world champion Seliö, who is upbeat about the new season after last year’s disappointing race performances, can’t wait to get out and race in front of the Indonesia fans at a higher altitude than most racing venues.

“At times (last season) felt like a painful roller coaster ride going from the highs of leading the French Grand Prix from pole position then moments later breaking down with a small part failing, to the highs of Zandbergen taking his first victory to me crashing out in qualifying and the race—we had so much bad luck that the guys were actually getting used to it,” Seliö said. “Our Mercury Racing engines require a specific amount of air to run properly. So, due to the lower level of oxygen at higher altitudes, we may notice a significant decrease in power and performance here, but every team will have that to contend with not just us.

“We are all race drivers and always want to win,” he added. “Perhaps, this season, just how hard we need to push, especially in Indonesia and China, might need to be looked at.”

Torrente said Team Abu Dhabi was preparing for the higher altitiude.

“We have a bit of altitude there, about 3,000 feet, so we’ll definitely lose some horsepower,” he said. “But the race circuit that has been laid out looks amazing, and fun, with two right handers. It’s a huge body of water, so if it gets windy it could be challenging. But I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s always good to go to a new venue.”

Qualifying starts Saturday and the first race of the season is on Sunday. After Indonesia the series heads to China (April 29-30), followed by France (July 1-2), Italy (July 8/9 or Sept. 1-3), Italy (Sept. 30-Oct. 1), Asia (Nov. 4-5 and Nov. 11-12), and UAE (Dec. 16-17).

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