Spanish F1 Grand Prix - Practice

Felipe Massa heads up final practice in Spain

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Felipe Massa has finished quickest in final practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, edging out former Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen by a very small margin.

Massa, who won the race at the Circuit de Catalunya back in 2007, put in a quick time late on to go fastest, with the rest of the field unable to respond to his lap of 1:21.901. Raikkonen finished just 0.006 seconds behind the Brazilian driver, and Lotus will be delighted with its one-lap pace which has evidently made a step forward since the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Lotus’ good form was underlined by Romain Grosjean, who bounced back from a disappointing showing on Friday to finish 4th between the two Red Bull drivers. Mark Webber, who won the race back in 2010, managed to complete the top three, and he will be delighted to have edged out his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, in 5th. Despite leading mid-way through the session, Fernando Alonso could only finish P6 in front of his home fans.

FP3 saw Force India continue its good form, with Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil finish 7th and 8th respectively, ahead of Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes. Jean-Eric Vergne completed the top ten for Toro Rosso, ahead of Nico Rosberg; Mercedes do not appear to have the one-lap pace that has seen them claim the last two pole positions this weekend.

For McLaren, Williams and Sauber, it was another quiet session, and all three teams will be keen on making an improvement during qualifying given the work that has gone into the new upgrades. At the back, Caterham and Marussia continued their tight battle, with Charles Pic finishing 0.018 seconds ahead of Jules Bianchi.

Once again, practice has suggested that qualifying will be an incredibly tight affair later today, with Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus all vying for pole position.

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

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.