Fernando Alonso believes he is “in the leading group”

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Three-time Bahrain Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso is confident that Ferrari are in the running for victory this weekend after a good performance in practice.

The Italian team finished P1 and P2 in Free Practice 1 in Sakhir, and Alonso continued his good form by finishing 4th in the second session. The Spanish driver, who won last week’s Chinese Grand Prix, was pleased with his performance as he looks to win back-to-back races for the first time since the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix.

“It was a positive day and we are reasonably pleased with how the car behaved,” Alonso said in a team statement. “We had no major problems and more importantly, we didn’t have to make any radical changes to the F138 to adapt it to this track and its long straights and slow corners, characteristics which I like a lot and usually produce a great show in the race.”

Alonso believes that he is well placed for qualifying on Saturday, with Lotus, Red Bull and Mercedes also looking strong.

“The initial feelings are good and I think we can be up in the leading group tomorrow, a group that is all within the same two, maximum three tenths.”

The team will make a decision about the car upgrades brought to Bahrain on Saturday.

“We have not yet decided if we will use the aero updates we tried in the morning. It is not yet completely clear how they worked and in the afternoon, we concentrated on comparing the two tire compounds we have for this race.”

Felipe Massa finished on top in FP1, but he could only finish 6th in FP2, yet the Brazilian driver’s good record in Bahrain (two wins) will certainly put him in the running to support and possibly challenge Alonso on Sunday.

MORE: Watch FP2, qualifying and the Bahrain Grand Prix online or on your phone or tablet

Recapping the proper Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel rivalry (VIDEO)

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Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel are the two most decorated drivers currently on the Formula 1 grid, with seven World Championships between them (four for Vettel, and three for Hamilton).

However, their paths have rarely crossed on the track, and only in 2010 did both drivers battle each for a World Championship in the same year. They also battled Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber that year, with Vettel emerging on top to claim his first World Championship.

However, the 2017 season sees Hamilton and Vettel in the two best cars on the grid, and they have gone head-to-head multiple times already this year, with each claiming two victories through the first five races. Currently, Vettel leads Hamilton 104-98 in the world championship, and the two men are developing a strong on-track rivalry.

Monaco Grand Prix coverage continues with FP3 and qualifying on Saturday. Full times are linked here.

 

Take a look behind the scenes of Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 qualifying runs (VIDEO)

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In Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, we take you behind the scenes during F1 superstar Fernando Alonso’s qualifying runs for the Indy 500, including when he was on the pole for a brief period. He’ll eventually start fifth. 

Simulator ride tells what Fernando Alonso can expect in Indianapolis 500 (VIDEO)

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On Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, Parker Kligerman and his backseat driver, Kyle Petty, took to the iRacing simulator to make a mock run around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

They look at the challenges of IMS, as well as the challenges two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will face in the first oval track race in his illustrious career. Alonso is among the favorites in the race and will take the green flag from the middle of Row 2 (fifth position).

Check out the above video.  

Legendary announcer Ken Squier gets you ready for Sunday’s big day of racing (VIDEO)

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Sunday is the biggest day of the year in motorsports, starting in the morning with Formula 1’s legendary Monaco Grand Prix.

Then, at Noon ET, it’s the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The final part of the tripleheader of racing is NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the 400-lap, 600-mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Newly-named NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Ken Squier gives you a great primer for what promises to be a memorable day around the world (see video above).