Honda announces new tech center, USAC partnership in Indy

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Honda’s two North American arms has been in the news with two major announcements this week related to its IndyCar program.

On Wednesday, Honda Performance Development officially opened its Indiana Tech Center in Brownsburg, Ind. The facility features a full-scale DIL (Driver-in-the-Loop) Simulator. Construction began in 2012.

A DIL Simulator can save racing teams both time and money, as extensive test programs can be run through the simulator, with the team’s driver at the wheel and engineers monitoring “lap times”, prior to going to the expense and time-consuming process of actual on-track testing.

“Because [setup] changes can be done so quickly, the DIL Simulator allows you to run through many more [chassis geometry and track condition] changes than you could perform with an actual race car,” said Gil de Ferran, Indianapolis 500 winner, Indy car champion and now a consultant to HPD.  “It also allows you to perform experiments that would be completely impractical – or highly expensive – on an actual race car.”

Meanwhile on Thursday, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. announced a major USAC partnership program. It will include title sponsorship of several USAC racing series and a new role as Official Engine Supplier to the Ignite Midget Series.

More information on the tech center can be found here, and on the USAC partnership, here.

How Hamilton, Mercedes can clinch F1 titles at the United States GP

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Sunday’s United States Grand Prix could go down as a memorable race in Formula 1 history as both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes bid to clinch their fourth world championships (live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET).

Hamilton gave his chances of wrapping up the drivers’ title and re-claiming the crown he lost to Nico Rosberg in 2016 a world of good by charging to pole position on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.

However, with chief rival Sebastian Vettel starting second for Ferrari and a 16-point swing required, it seems likely that the title race could continue to next weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Nevertheless, here are the permutations for Lewis Hamilton to win his fourth F1 world title on Sunday in Austin, Texas.

  • If Lewis Hamilton wins the race (25 points) and Sebastian Vettel finishes sixth or lower (maximum eight points), he is world champion.
  • If Hamilton finishes second (18 points), Sebastian Vettel finishes ninth or lower (maximum two points), and Valtteri Bottas does not win the race, he is world champion.

While Hamilton’s coronation seems likely to be postponed until the next race in Mexico, Mercedes looks nailed-on to wrap up its fourth consecutive constructors’ championship in Sunday’s USGP.

The German marque currently leads Ferrari by 145 points in the teams’ standings, and requires a lead of 129 after the race to clinch the crown.

As a result, a double top-four finish from Hamilton and Bottas would be enough for Mercedes to wrap up the title, regardless of how Ferrari fares.

The success would see Mercedes become just the fourth team in F1 history take four straight constructors’ titles, following Red Bull (2010 to 2013), Ferrari (1999 to 2004) and McLaren (1988 to 1991).

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.