Awesome Alonso takes home victory at Spanish GP

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Fernando Alonso has claimed an emotional home victory at the Spanish Grand Prix today, perfecting his strategy to win the race ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and teammate Felipe Massa.

Despite starting from the front row, Mercedes endured a terrible race as they struggled with tire wear, causing them to drop through the field. Sebastian Vettel could only finish 4th as he struggled for pace, despite challenging for the lead early on. Ultimately though, no-one could stop Alonso from taking his second win at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Off the start, Alonso caused trouble for the leaders by slipping past Raikkonen through the exit of turn two, and then by not lifting he managed to squeeze out Hamilton around the outside of the long turn three. It was a gutsy move that delighted the Spanish fans, as he slotted into third place. Rosberg managed to stave off Vettel at the front, but his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, lost out to Raikkonen early on. Felipe Massa made a great start, passing Webber, Grosjean and Perez to lie 6th, whilst Jenson Button had a terrible start to slip down to P17.

At the front, Rosberg held the lead until the first round of stops whilst Ferrari made big gains thanks to some impressive outlaps, and Alonso relegated Vettel to P3. Massa had jumped Raikkonen, but the Finn soon caught up with the group. Just as Hamilton had fallen right back, Rosberg’s tires let him down which saw him drop behind all four of the chasing drivers to release Alonso at the front. The Spanish driver quickly set about opening the gap between himself and Vettel, and he had soon eased into a comfortable lead.

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It quickly became evident that strategy would be key, with Ferrari and Red Bull opting to make four stops whilst Lotus were trying to pit just three times. Mercedes’ weekend went from bad to worse as Hamilton bemoaned the fact that he was ‘slower than a Williams’, and he could only come home in P12. Rosberg did score some points for the German team, but eight points from a front-row lock out will be a great disappointment.

As the race panned out, Alonso continued to push ahead on the softer tires with Massa in P2 as Vettel struggled to keep up with the two Ferrari drivers. Instead, it was Raikkonen who posed the biggest threat to Alonso’s lead on a three-stop strategy, but it was not enough as the Spaniard managed to come out in the lead after making his final stop. He eventually eased home to win by 9.3 seconds.

Massa scored his first podium of the season in P3, after dropping behind Raikkonen, but he did finish ahead of the Red Bull duo of Vettel and Webber. Rosberg hung on for P6 at the end of the race ahead of a charging Paul di Resta, who was followed by the McLaren pairing of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. Daniel Ricciardo completed the points, denying Esteban Gutierrez his first score.

Just three drivers retired from the race: Giedo van der Garde, Romain Grosjean and Jean-Eric Vergne.

F1 drivers split on new ‘shield’ protection

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) Formula One drivers are split over plans to test a new “shield” device to protect against flying debris.

The FIA will trial the transparent screen in the coming months for a potential introduction in 2018, as it pushes for greater head protection for drivers. Recent years have seen major head injuries in several motorsport series.

“I wouldn’t mind trying out the shield, seeing how is the visibility,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said on Thursday. “In terms of safety it would be a good step compared to what we have now.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was another supporter, saying “we’ve still got to see a bit more, but first impressions seem OK.”

The FIA previously seemed to favor a metal frame known as the “halo,” which was designed to stop a flying wheel hitting a driver’s head but was criticized by some drivers on aesthetic grounds.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat said on Thursday he was “quite against” the shield and the halo. “The way Formula One should look should remain the same,” he added. “We have enough protection.”

Romain Grosjean of Haas voiced concern the “next step” would be completely closed cockpits.

Recent years have seen several high-profile head injuries, including the deaths of Formula Two driver Henry Surtees in 2009 when he was hit by a loose wheel and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was struck by debris, in 2015.

In Formula One, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa missed the second half of the 2009 season when a loose spring from another car hit his helmet, leaving him needing surgery.

Haas changes F1 brake supplier ahead of Russian Grand Prix

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Haas has switched from Brembo to Carbon Industrie brakes ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix in a bid to remedy its long-running braking issues in Formula 1.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation onto the F1 grid in 2016, with Romain Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points through its debut season.

Grosjean and then-teammate Esteban Gutierrez had their efforts spurned on a number of occasions by brake issues which continued to arise through pre-season testing in 2017 and the early races.

Haas pushed to remedy the issue by testing new Carbon Industrie brakes in the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, with Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen conducting running.

The team duly decided to fit the new Carbon Industrie brakes for this weekend’s race in Russia, with both VF-17 cars to run with them from Friday onwards.

“To be fair to Brembo, the last update in brakes we had that arrived in China were much better. It took a long time to get them,” Grosjean explained.

“So then I was not screaming to change to Carbone Industrie but it was in the pipeline, so we tried them, and both drivers were pretty pleased with them. We felt like we had more control under braking.

“I’m very sensitive to my left pedal, so I really need to get good brakes to get good confidence and push the car to its maximum limit. So we are going to run them here.

“There is still a little bit of work we need to be doing around the mapping and finding the solution around those brakes but I think yeah, definitely it’s going to help me a little bit to find the last few hundredths.”

NHRA: Chad Head to substitute for Alexis DeJoria in Charlotte

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Alexis DeJoria will miss this weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, with her Kalitta Motorsports team confirming DeJoria will need to tend to a family matter.

Chad Head, Kalitta Motorsports Director of Safety, will step into the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry this weekend. No timetable was given for DeJoria’s return; after Charlotte this weekend, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues for its third consecutive race weekend next week in Atlanta.

This isn’t the first race DeJoria has had to miss recently, as she also was diagnosed with a concussion and missed the 2016 NHRA season finale in Pomona.

F1 Paddock Pass: Russian Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Following his victory in Bahrain two weeks ago, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel arrived in Russia on Thursday targeting a third win of the year to extend his lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.

Not since 2004 has a Ferrari driver made such a good start to a season, putting Vettel in contention for a fifth world title this year – although with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton hot on his tail, it will have to be a hard-earned success.

The fourth round of the year sees F1 head to the Olympic city of Sochi, which hosted the winter games back in 2014. The Sochi Autodrom played host to its first grand prix the same year, and is now a key part of Russia’s post-Olympic legacy.

Bringing you all of the latest news and interviews ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Will Buxton brings you Paddock Pass.