AUTO-F1-PRIX-MONTMELO-TEST

Rosberg and Mercedes finish testing on top

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After his teammate Lewis Hamilton managed to set the timesheets alight yesterday in Barcelona, Nico Rosberg went even quicker to bring pre-season testing to a close in the best possible fashion.

The German driver finished three tenths clear of Fernando Alonso at the top, which will predictably lead many to label Mercedes favorites for when Formula One 2013 gets underway in two weeks’ time.

Rosberg and Alonso battled for much of the morning in pursuit of the quickest time. The Ferrari driver’s spell at the top lasted just two minutes until Rosberg smashed Alonso’s time, as well as that of Hamilton from the day before.

Jenson Button impressed to finish third, but the one second gap to Alonso in P2 will be cause for concern at McLaren. Sauber picked the best possible time to find form, with Nico Hulkenburg finishing fourth, just one tenth behind Button. Despite a late run, Raikkonen could only finish fifth, 0.006 seconds ahead of Force India’s Paul di Resta.

Williams failed to repeat their good Saturday form, with Maldonado and Bottas finishing seventh and ninth respectively. World champion Sebastian Vettel ended up a disappointing eighth, and after Mark Webber’s poor showing yesterday, Red Bull appear to have a lot of work to do prior to the Australian Grand Prix.

Caterham finally edged out Marussia as Charles Pic finished less than half a tenth ahead of Jules Bianchi. Daniel Ricciardo ended up a disappointing twelfth as Toro Rosso’s early testing form continues to dwindle, but he did finish ahead of Marussia’s Max Chilton. The British driver will undoubtedly be alarmed by the 0.9 second gap between himself and teammate Bianchi.

The session today marked the end of winter testing in 2013, meaning that the next chance for development comes in Friday practice for the Australian Grand Prix. Mercedes may maintain that they are not in a position to claim race wins, yet their pace is impressive enough to suggest the contrary. Regardless, all will be revealed when Formula One returns in two weeks’ time.

Unofficial Times

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:20.130
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:20.494 +0.364
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1:21.444 +1.314
4. Nico Hulkenburg Sauber 1:21.541 +1.411
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:21.658 +1.528
6. Paul di Resta Force India 1:21.664 +1.534
7. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:22.415 +2.285
8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:22.514 +2.384
9. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:22.524 +2.394
10. Charles Pic Caterham 1:23.115 +2.985
11. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:23.167 +3.037
12. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:23.628 +3.498
13. Max Chilton Marussia 1:24.103 +3.973

Ahead of #DWR2, check out Jeff Braun’s house (VIDEO)

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There will be more to come very likely later this week regarding the launch of Dinner with Racers season two, as supported by Continental Tire and Acura.

The popular podcast hosted by sports car veteran driver Ryan Eversley, a factory driver for Acura Motorsports’ NSX GT3 program with RealTime Racing in Pirelli World Challenge, and veteran behind-the-scenes PR/video/marketing maven Sean Heckman had 28 episodes in its first season and should have a similar number for season two.

Two of the more popular episodes from Season 1 involved veteran engineer Jeff Braun, father of Colin and Travis Braun. The elder Braun hosted the guys at his family’s house in Ovalo, Texas, which is about as “middle of nowhere” as it gets. Colin Braun and Jon Bennett will share the No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R next season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Jeff Braun’s racing stories were one episode, while a special breakout episode was dedicated to Level 5 Motorsports, and remains one of the most popular downloaded episodes from the season. Both are linked below.

But in the above video, you can get a tour of the Braun household. We leave it to Jeff, Sean and Ryan to do the rest.

Sports cars: Lizards win Thunderhill; more confirmations

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Photo: Bob Chapman/Autosport Image
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Notes from the last week or so in the busy, wild world of sports car racing:

  • Flying Lizard Motorsports benefitted from late-race issues that hit the Ryno Racing Team, where the right rear stub axle broke on its Ginetta G57 LMP3. The Lizard’s No. 45 Audi R8 LMS of Darren Law, Johannes van Overbeek, Mike Hedlund and Dion von Moltke delivered a flawless drive en route to the win at the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill, the car’s second straight. More here from Sportscar365.
  • Rebellion Racing confirmed a Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup entry. Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Sebastien Buemi will be an all-star lineup in the team’s Oreca 07 at the 51st running of the 24 Hours of Daytona, January 26-29, and at the Roar, January 6-9.
  • Grasser Racing Team will run a two-car Lamborghini Huracán GT3 effort at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Rolf Ineichen (Switzerland), Christian Engelhart (Germany), Mirko Bortolotti (Italy) and Ezequil Companc (Argentina) will be in one car, with Ineichen and Engelhart the first two drivers listed for the second car.
  • Former Fall-Line Motorsports team manager Michael Harvey has been named Director of Race Operations for VISIT FLORIDA Racing, which is a great get for the Troy Flis-owned team. Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens are the team’s full-season drivers for the No. 90 Riley-Gibson car.
  • IMSA has confirmed a couple things on the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge – which is linked here.
  • Mercedes-AMG will build a GT4. More here from Sportscar365.
  • Two Porsche announcements in PWC. Patrick Long will be back with Wright Motorsports in its No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R, while Jon Fogarty will be back in a Porsche, following a surprise switch by the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing from McLaren this year.

Indy’s unsung heroes: RRDC hails Holmatro Safety Team (VIDEO)

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In this video produced by the Road Racing Drivers Club SAFEisFAST initiative, we take a look behind the scenes at the Verizon IndyCar Series’ unsung heroes: the Holmatro Safety Team.

You’ve heard about their heroic efforts over the years, particularly with saving James Hinchcliffe’s life last year in Indianapolis.

But how do they do what they do? This video explains it.

Red Bull, Aston Martin partnership continues into 2017

GAYDON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing talks on stage at the Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing Project AMRB 001 Unveil on July 5, 2016 at the Aston Martin Headquarters in Gaydon, England on July 5, 2016 in Gaydon, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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The partnership between Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin will continue into 2017, Red Bull confirmed on Tuesday.

Branding on the Red Bull Formula 1 chassis will continue, while bigger news has come in terms of the AM-RB 001 hypercar.

Red Bull and Aston Martin announced that all 150 road-going cars of the 175 cars built (the other 25 are track-only specials) have been sold and customer deliveries will begin in early 2019.

An AM-RB 001 prototype is expected to run for the first time by the end of this season.

“We first conceived our Innovation Partnership with Aston Martin in the realization that it could be truly pioneering,” said Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing team principal.

“In blending our distinct but unique skills under a shared creative vision, we have already seen tangible development to both of our brands and businesses. The extraordinary success of the AM RB-001 is testament to the expert and collaborative spirit in which it was forged, and extending our relationship with Aston Martin through 2017 was a simple and pleasing decision.”

Aston Martin President and CEO Andy Palmer added,  “By bringing together the talents of Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin, AM-RB 001 is destined to become the defining hypercar of this decade and a hugely desirable investment for collectors and enthusiasts.

“Our relationship with Red Bull Racing has done for Aston Martin exactly what we expected it to do,” he continued. “It is helping us to continue to build our brand across the globe. Partnerships like this are good for business both in terms of technical innovation and brand awareness, so we are pleased to continue into 2017.”