Monaco F1 GP Auto Racing

Nico Rosberg dominates en route to Monaco GP victory

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Nico Rosberg has won a thrilling Monaco Grand Prix following a cool and controlled performance, leading every lap to claim a win that sees him match the achievement of his father, Keke, thirty years ago.

Rosberg’s lead was threatened by constant stoppages thanks to two safety cars and a red flag, but he managed to finish ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber come the end of the race thanks to some excellent tire management and sheer pace. His teammate, Lewis Hamilton, missed out on the podium following a mix-up under the safety car, whilst championship contenders Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen both struggled for pace, finishing 7th and 10th respectively.

Off the start, Mercedes’ front-row lockout was threatened by Sebastian Vettel who made a good start, but he could not make any progress from P3 after getting stuck on the inside of Ste Devote. All of the drivers got through the first corner safely, and it wasn’t until the tight Loews hairpin that contact was made between Adrian Sutil and Jean-Eric Vergne. Both managed to continue with no problems unlike Pastor Maldonado and qualifying hero Giedo van der Garde, who had to pit on the first lap. Jules Bianchi was forced to start from the pit lane after failing to complete the parade lap, whilst Felipe Massa could not make much progress from P21. At the front, Rosberg and Hamilton managed to open up a small buffer to Red Bull, with most of the teams entering tire management mode. McLaren saw the rivalry between their drivers renewed from Bahrain, but Sergio Perez was forced to concede the position to Button after cutting two chicanes, and a fire on Charles Pic’s car ended his race after just nine laps.

The first round of pit stops saw Webber, Alonso and Raikkonen come in early in an attempt to use the undercut, but they appeared to gain very little. Mercedes continued to push deep into the race, with their engineers telling Rosberg and Hamilton to slowly up their pace. The Silver Arrows did eventually pit under the safety car, which was brought out for the first time in 2013 after a hefty crash from Felipe Massa, mirroring the incident in FP3 on Saturday. Hamilton was the big loser from the incident, coming out of the pits behind Vettel and Webber, but Rosberg still headed the field for Mercedes.

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Off the restart, Rosberg controlled the field and maintained his lead, with Hamilton hounding Webber for position. The Mercedes did get past the Red Bull, but only for a split second as Webber quickly recovered his position. Tailing Raikkonen, Alonso ran wide at the Loews hairpin and Button tried to squeeze past, only to touch the Ferrari and eventually lose out to Perez for P7. The Mexican driver continued to make a move on Alonso, but the Ferrari driver just managed to hold onto 6th. On lap 46, the race was red flagged after Pastor Maldonado crashed heavily into the barrier at Tabac following contact with Max Chilton. The incident was so severe that the TecPro barrier came out onto the race track, warranting the red flag, and thankfully Maldonado was okay despite the big shunt. This saw the drivers re-assemble on the grid in race order, and their mechanics were able to make changes to the cars and fit new tires.

When the racing resumed, Alonso was forced to give up his position to Perez after the FIA investigated his earlier move, and Hamilton began to put pressure on Webber for the final podium position. Not willing to settle for 6th, Perez tried to pass Kimi Raikkonen, who had opted to run on the harder tire on the restart, but he could not find a way past the Lotus. For Alonso, his weekend went from bad to worse as Adrian Sutil caught him napping to pass into the Loews hairpin. Rosberg did not let the pressure get to him at the front as he opened up a steady gap, but Bianchi cracked and his race ended in the barrier at Ste Devote following a mistake. An over-zealous move from Grosjean sent Daniel Ricciardo off down the slip road, and as the Lotus driver pitted for a fresh nose cone, the safety car was deployed for a second time. Grosjean soon returned to the pits and retired from the race.

Rosberg quickly set about opening up his lead once again on the restart, moving outside of the DRS window. Perez tried once again to pass Raikkonen, losing a portion of his front wing after the Finnish driver shut the door on his move at the Nouvelle Chicane. Raikkonen suffered a slow puncture, forcing him to pit and drop outside of the points. As the field slowed, Alonso lost yet another position to Button, with the two-time Monaco winner ending up P8. However, he recovered the position after Sergio Perez pulled off the circuit, handing 5th place to Sutil with four laps to go. Late on, Raikkonen recovered to collect one point, but nobody could stop Rosberg as he won the second grand prix of his career.

Here are driver running orders for 2017 Barcelona tests

MONTMELO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26:  Carlos Sainz of Spain with Daniil Kvyat of Russia both of Scuderia Toro Rosso unveil the new STR-12 F1 car during previews to F1 winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 26, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
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Tomorrow, the 2017 Formula 1 season will be underway at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona with the first of two four-day tests at the track.

The tests run from February 27-March 2, and March 7-10. The season opens in Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix on March 26, on NBCSN.

Most teams have released the running orders for their drivers, although there’s still some blanks to be filled in. A link to all teams’ new cars is here.

Here’s who you can expect to see, when, for these two tests. This post will be updated with more info when it arrives:

Haas F1 Team Test Schedule (Haas breakout

Test 1
February 27 – Kevin Magnussen
February 28 – Kevin Magnussen
March 1 – Romain Grosjean
March 2 – Romain Grosjean

Test 2
March 7 – Kevin Magnussen
March 8 – Romain Grosjean
March 9 – Kevin Magnussen
March 10 – Romain Grosjean

Sahara Force India Test Schedule (Force India breakout

Test 1
February 27 – Sergio Perez
February 28 – Esteban Ocon
March 1 – Alfonso Celis Jr.
March 2 – Sergio Perez/Esteban Ocon

Test 2
March 7 – Esteban Ocon
March 8 – Sergio Perez
March 9 – Esteban Ocon
March 10 – Sergio Perez

Williams Martini Racing Test Schedule (Williams breakout)

Test 1
February 27 – Felipe Massa
February 28 – Lance Stroll
March 1 – Felipe Massa
March 2 – Lance Stroll

Test 2
March 7 – Lance Stroll
March 8 – Lance Stroll
March 9 – Felipe Massa
March 10 – Felipe Massa

Mercedes AMG Petronas Test Schedule (Mercedes breakout)

Monday 27 February
Morning – Valtteri Bottas
Afternoon – Lewis Hamilton

Tuesday 28 February
Morning – Lewis Hamilton
Afternoon – Valtteri Bottas

Wednesday 1 March
Morning – Valtteri Bottas
Afternoon – Lewis Hamilton

Thursday 2 March
Morning – Lewis Hamilton
Afternoon – Valtteri Bottas

McLaren Honda Test Schedule (McLaren breakout)

Test 1
February 27 – Fernando Alonso
February 28 – Stoffel Vandoorne
March 1 – Fernando Alonso
March 2 – Stoffel Vandoorne

Red Bull Racing Test Schedule

Test 1
February 27 – Daniel Ricciardo
February 28 – Max Verstappen
March 1 – Daniel Ricciardo
March 2 – Max Verstappen

Scuderia Toro Rosso Test Schedule

Test 1
February 27 – Carlos Sainz Jr.
February 28 – Daniil Kvyat
March 1 – TBC
March 2 – TBC

Scuderia Ferrari Test Schedule

Test 1
February 27 – Sebastian Vettel
February 28 – Kimi Raikkonen
March 1 – Sebastian Vettel
March 2 – Kimi Raikkonen

Renault Sport F1 Test Schedule

Test 1
February 27 – Nico Hulkenberg
February 28 – Jolyon Palmer
March 1 – TBC
March 2 – TBC

Sauber F1 Team Test Schedule

Test 1
February 27 – Marcus Ericsson
February 28 – Antonio Giovinazzi

Wednesday 1 March
Morning – Marcus Ericsson
Afternoon – Antonio Giovinazzi

Thursday 2 March
Morning – Marcus Ericsson
Afternoon – Antonio Giovinazzi

Leah Pritchett races to second straight NHRA Top Fuel win

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Photo: Don Schumacher Racing
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CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) Leah Pritchett raced to her second straight Top Fuel victory to start the season Sunday and successfully defended her NHRA Arizona Nationals title.

Pritchett beat Brittany Force in the final for the second year in a row at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports, finishing in 3.705 seconds at 328.22 mph. Pritchett has three career victories, also winning the season-opener two weeks ago in Pomona, California.

“I’m learning to do what it takes to get into that extreme, severe mindset of what it takes to do what we’re doing,” Pritchett said. “Honestly, I’m trying to keep up with my team for how well they’re doing and make them proud of me as a driver and do the job that is expected of a Don Schumacher racing team and I think we’re doing pretty OK with that. We’re blessed with the equipment and the talent capabilities of the people and everyone that it takes to make it. I’m happy I can hold up my end of the bargain.”

Force ran a 3.704 at 330.39, losing on a holeshot.

Pritchett is the first Top Fuel driver to sweep the first races since Gary Scelzi in 1997.

Matt Hagan won in Funny Car for the second straight event, and Greg Anderson topped the Pro Stock field.

Hagan had a 3.878 at 330.88 in a Dodge Charger R/T to beat defending season champion Ron Capps. Anderson raced to his 87th career victory, beating Drew Skillman with a 6.547 at 211.43 in a Chevrolet Camaro.

James Key notes similarities between Toro Rosso, Mercedes 2017 F1 cars

MONTMELO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26: Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost, Daniil Kvyat of Russia and Scuderia Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz of Spain and Scuderia Toro Rosso and James Key, Technical Director of Scuderia Toro Rosso unveil the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 in the pitlane during previews to F1 winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 26, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Scuderia Toro Rosso technical chief James Key has noted the similarities in the design between his team’s new Formula 1 car and Mercedes’ W08 EQ Power+.

Toro Rosso unveiled its new STR12 car on Sunday in Barcelona prior to the start of pre-season testing on Monday, with the team’s striking new livery being the biggest talking point.

After returning to current-year power units courtesy of Renault, hopes are high at Faenza that Toro Rosso could be the surprise package of F1 in 2017, particularly given the change in the regulations.

Speaking to reporters following the STR12’s launch, Key was quick to note that Toro Rosso appeared to have coincidentally gone down a similar path to Mercedes when it came to interpreting the new regulations.

“I looked at the Mercedes and thought: ‘Ah, OK. They’ve got our front suspension’. Most people will say we’ve got Mercedes’ front suspension,” Key said, as quoted by Reuters.

“The nose is similar, the front of the side pods is similar, even the bodywork of the sidepods is similar. Let’s just hope the engines are similar!”

Despite being on the same wavelength as the three-time reigning constructors’ championship-winning team, Key admitted he felt a twinge of disappointment.

“On the one hand we were pleased to see someone else has done a similar thing; on the other hand we were disappointed that we weren’t the only team to think of something,” Key said.

“There are many different concepts out there, actually.”

Toro Rosso finished seventh in last year’s constructors’ championship, having spent the latter part of the season largely hamstrung by the 2015-spec Ferrari engine it was using.

Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat return for another year with Toro Rosso in 2017, with the first public running of the STR12 coming in the next few days at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Formula 1 gets colorful: Here are all 10 liveries for 2017

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Following Scuderia Toro Rosso’s launch of the new STR12 car on Sunday night, the Formula 1 grid is now set ahead of the start of pre-season testing in Barcelona on Monday.

All 10 teams have sported cars that are quite the deviation from their predecessors, as forced by the overhaul of the technical regulations for the new season.

While the changes are mainly in place to make the cars quicker on-track, they also look more visually appealing than the 2016 grid – even if the debate over the ‘shark fin’ is set to rage on.

F1 has also got more colorful, with a number of teams sporting big livery changes that will make cars easier to pick out when you tune in across NBC Sports this season.

Here is what the grid will look like for F1 in 2017.

Mercedes W08 EQ Power+

2017 Silver Arrows Collateral Day Photography - Steve Etherington
© Mercedes AMG Petronas

Red Bull RB13

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© Red Bull Racing

Ferrari SF70H

© Scuderia Ferrari
© Scuderia Ferrari

Force India VJM10

© Sahara Force India
© Sahara Force India

Williams FW40

© Wil
© Williams Martini Racing

McLaren-Honda MCL32

 (Photo by McLaren F1 via Getty Images)
© McLaren F1 via Getty Images

Toro Rosso STR12

© Scuderia T
© Scuderia Toro Rosso

Haas VF-17

© Haas F1 Team
© Haas F1 Team

Renault R.S.17

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Sauber C36

© Sauber
© Sauber