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

Verizon confirms IndyCar title sponsor role exit after 2018

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As perhaps expected, Verizon has confirmed Friday it will end its role as Verizon IndyCar Series title sponsor following the end of its fifth year in 2018.

Reports surfaced shortly after this year’s IndyCar season finale at Sonoma Raceway that Verizon was re-evaluating its role within the series.

Indeed, as it was before becoming title sponsor in 2014, Verizon will remain a partner with Team Penske despite not also carrying the series title sponsor role.

In a statement, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles thanked Verizon for its support in this overall series role.

“Verizon has been a super sponsor and will continue to be so through all of next season. We appreciate that they reached their decision in a timely way so that we can thoughtfully and deliberately go back into the market for 2019,” Miles said in a statement, via Sports Business Journal.

Roger Penske also issued a statement, also via SBJ, saying, “We want to thank Verizon for the support they have provided the IndyCar Series and the role they have played as they helped us grow the sport as the title sponsor for the past five years. Verizon has helped the series reach new fans through their world-class activation and technology, including the Verizon IndyCar Mobile App. While they will no longer be the Series Title Sponsor after 2018, it is exciting they will still be in the sport through their relationship with our organization.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series has built a wave of momentum over the last few years with its competition level, parity and enthusiasm for some revived events, with Gateway Motorsports Park and Road America standing out as highlights being brought back after an extended hiatus.

The good news for INDYCAR (sanctioning body) is that there’s a new Dallara universal aero kit that’s been busy with testing the last few months and is now in the hands of manufacturers for manufacturer testing, and the series announced long-term extensions with Dallara, Chevrolet, Honda and Firestone earlier this year. New series champion Josef Newgarden has also been busy in a number of media events and appearances since the Sonoma season finale.

With this confirmation, INDYCAR has a new entitlement sponsor to find and a new TV contract to sort, with both existing contracts up after 2018.