Gutierrez and Massa handed grid penalties

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Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Massa have both been handed three place grid penalties for blocking during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix today.

Gutierrez was found to have compromised Kimi Raikkonen’s flying lap during Q1, and although the Finn still managed to make it into Q2 with ease, the Sauber driver is thought to have been able to avoid the Lotus on track. This marks Gutierrez’s third grid penalty in five races, following a gearbox change in Australia and a penalty in Bahrain for causing an incident at the Chinese Grand Prix.

For Massa, this penalty sees him drop down to P9 on the grid, making his job even harder in the race tomorrow. The Brazilian driver held up Mark Webber during the second qualifying session, provoking a muffled radio response from the Red Bull driver protesting the move.

The stewards were expected to have a busy evening ahead of them following the session, and these penalties are hard to dispute following the TV footage made available. Escaping a penalty is Williams, with one of its drivers coming under fire from Jenson Button during Q1.

Following Massa’s penalty, Romain Grosjean, Mark Webber and Sergio Perez will all move on place up on the grid, leaving Massa on the 5th row alongside Paul di Resta. Gutierrez will drop to P19 on the grid, behind Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado, and Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde who will be delighted to start 18th tomorrow.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.