Mark Webber opts to start from pit lane

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Mark Webber has elected to start the Chinese Grand Prix from the pit lane following his exclusion from qualifying yesterday.

The Red Bull driver stopped out on track during the second part of qualifying due to a fuel shortage, meaning that he could not provide the FIA with a sample. As Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton found out last season, this leads to disqualification from the session, and Webber was set to start P22 on the grid.

However, by starting from the pit lane, the team has been able to make changes to his car overnight (breaking parc ferme restrictions). This was particularly profitable for Vettel in Abu Dhabi last season when he charged from P24 to P3 in the race thanks to the change in setup. Webber will be hoping to replicate this in China, and he may still be able to score some points relying he perfects his strategy.

The move also means that Webber will not get caught up in any incidents off the line.

Red Bull have made changes to the rear wing and suspension, as well as fitting a new gearbox which would usually warrant a five place penalty.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.