Spain F1 GP Auto Racing

Vettel edges out Alonso in dry second practice

Leave a comment

Sebastian Vettel has put his miserable result in FP1 behind him to finish with the quickest time in the second free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The defending world champion looked strong in the dry conditions, finishing 0.017 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in second, and Mark Webber also impressed to come third for Red Bull, also within one-tenth of Vettel’s time.

Many drivers went out early in order to make up for the time lost in FP1 due to rain, and it was obvious from the outset that Red Bull and Ferrari would be vying for top spot. Lewis Hamilton did lead briefly, but a slight spin proved that he was pushing too hard, and he could only finish sixth in the end. Force India suffered worse fortune, with Paul di Resta having a tire failure which forced him to pull over at pit exit.

Lotus had a mixed practice as Kimi Raikkonen ran well to finish fourth, but Romain Grosjean could only come home in P18, ahead both Caterham and Marussia drivers, with that battle appearing to be evenly-matched heading into qualifying tomorrow. Felipe Massa backed up his P2 in FP1 with a fifth-placed finish, with Nico Rosberg ending up behind his teammate in P7. Scuderia Toro Rosso appear to have made the biggest gains during the break, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo coming P9 and P11 respectively; a result which the team will be very pleased with.

Less pleased with their development will be McLaren and Williams, both of whom required a big step forward for the Spanish Grand Prix. Jenson Button finished down in P12 with his teammate one place further back, whilst Valtteri Bottas outperformed Pastor Maldonado once again in the Williams, with the Finn finishing in 14th whilst last year’s race winner Maldonado could only finish 16th.

Practice suggests that Red Bull and Ferrari are once again the teams to beat, with Lotus and Mercedes chasing closely. The small difference between Vettel, Alonso and Webber suggests that these could be the three drivers battling for the win this weekend, all having previously won at the Circuit de Catalunya. It all points towards a thrilling qualifying and race.

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

Leave a comment

Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
Leave a comment

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.