Horner: Plenty of driver options for 2014

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Christian Horner has said that Red Bull are in no rush to confirm who will be partnering Sebastian Vettel at the team next season, believing that they have “no shortage of choice” when it comes to finding a driver.

After the multi 21 fiasco unravelled at the Malaysian Grand Prix, Webber appears to be on his way out of the team. His destination, be it another Formula One team or a different racing series altogether, is unknown, but Horner’s comments suggest that the team is not yet ready to consider candidates his seat.

“It is much too early thinking about drivers for next year,” Horner explained to the official Formula One website. “Sebastian is clear – and everything else will fall into place towards the end of the summer. There is no pre-conception.”

Horner has also said that Sebastian Vettel will not have a great influence on who his teammate will be, despite the inter-team rivalry causing this chain of events.

“He is going to do the best job for himself. And to say, ‘this one, yes’ and, ‘this one, no’ was never Sebastian’s style, to dictate, ‘I must have this or that’. He is a sporting guy and has never pressured the team into doing things for his own benefit.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso entered the sport in 2006 as a feeder team to Red Bull, but Vettel is the only driver to have made the jump between the teams. With Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo both impressing lately, many believe that one of them could join Vettel, but Horner will only be looking for the best driver available, regardless of what team they drive for.

“Our objectives are very simple: we want the best two drivers in our cars. If they come from Toro Rosso, fantastic as they develop nicely. But we always push to have the best two drivers available.

“There is no shortage of choice.”

The race for the second seat at Red Bull certainly appears to be hotting up. Nico Hulkenberg, who many believed was the natural choice, has endured a poor start to the season, whilst the departure of James Allison from Lotus has sparked rumors that Kimi Raikkonen could make the move. Going by Horner’s comments though, we will not know the identity of Sebastian Vettel’s teammate until the summer at the very earliest.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.