Great Friday for RLL’s Conway in Long Beach

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Mike Conway’s first day back in IndyCar with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing couldn’t have gone much better.

The Englishman, driving the No. 17 blu eCigs Dallara-Honda as the third RLL entry, was second in both sessions and thus second fastest on the day behind Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Conway observed a solid grip level from this year’s Firestone street course tires thus far, compared to 2012’s.

“Generally the grip feels very good this weekend,” he said. “We are yet to try the reds of course and there are some differences, and we’ll have to adjust for that.”

Immediately he has begun to gel with the rest of the RLL squad, teammates Graham Rahal and James Jakes and their engineers Gerry Hughes and Eddie Jones, respectively.

“It’s great to have, as even just after first session we were close,” said Conway. “We have different styles per corner. Graham is good in 1-2, James in other corners, and we really push off each other and learn.”

For now the race is a one-off with RLL, but Conway is optimistic of other races that don’t conflict with his FIA World Endurance Championship schedule. Conway races an LMP2 class Oreca 03 Nissan for the G-Drive by Delta-ADR squad.

“I think it’s possible; we just have to work on this weekend first, and get a good result,” he said. “WEC is all confirmed and is going ahead. There are races we can do – I think the rest of street courses at least – as I think there is only one conflict.”

Indeed, the only potential conflict between WEC and an IndyCar street race is the weekend of August 31 and Sept. 1. WEC races in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with IndyCar in Baltimore.

Williams to wait until new year before making 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams will wait until the new year before making an announcement regarding its Formula 1 driver line-up for the 2018 season.

Williams holds the final vacant seat in F1 for next year, with Felipe Massa retiring at the last race of the 2017 season in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.

The Brazilian’s departure has opened up a seat alongside Lance Stroll for 2018, which looked poised to be taken by Robert Kubica, over seven years after he last raced in F1 before injuries sustained in a rally accident appeared to cut his career short.

Doubts emerged about Kubica’s comeback following a test with Williams in its 2017-spec car in Abu Dhabi after the final race of the season, leading to Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin becoming the favorite.

Besides Kubica and Sirotkin, ditched Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also an option, but Williams has now confirmed it will make no decision on its line-up until the new year.

Sirotkin first entered the frame in F1 in 2013 when he became a development driver at Sauber, with Russian backers SMP Racing pushing to get him a race seat for the following year.

Sirotkin missed out on a full-time role at the team, leading him to focus on racing in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2014 before spending two years in GP2, where he finished third in the standings in both seasons.

Renault struck an agreement to sign Sirotkin in a junior role in 2016, leading to a number of practice run-outs over the last two seasons, but he was passed over for a 2018 race seat when it signed Carlos Sainz Jr.

Williams emerged as an option for Sirotkin following a successful maiden test with the team in Abu Dhabi alongside Kubica, with talks now set to continue over the holiday period.

Sirotkin has not taken on a full-time race program this year, making just a single competitive appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with SMP Racing in the LMP2 class.

Sirotkin has also been involved in the development of the team’s BR Engineering-designed LMP1 car for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship season, and is likely to secure a seat should he miss out on the role at Williams.