Grosjean buoyed by improvement in performance

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Romain Grosjean has made no secret of his happiness following a strong qualifying session at the Nurburgring today. The French driver will line up 5th on the grid, ahead of both Ferrari drivers and just one place behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

“It’s good for the team,” Grosjean told NBC Sports’ Will Buxton after qualifying. “I’m a bit disappointed with my first sector on the last lap, two or three tenths there that we could have been better.”

Kimi Raikkonen also revealed that he lost time on his final run, potentially costing Lotus a place in the top three on the grid. However, Grosjean is still pleased with the result, believing that the new tires and the increased temperature has suited the team.

“Generally much more happier with the way the car is going, the new tires seem to suit us pretty well, the temperature is coming, summer finally shows up which is great news. Hopefully tomorrow the race will be good.”

The Lotus driver is chasing his first top-ten finish since the Bahrain Grand Prix, where he finished on the podium. There have been rumors circulating suggesting that Grosjean could be replaced in the near-future by Davide Valsecchi, Lotus’ reserve driver. However, strong performances like this will certainly do Grosjean a world of good, although carrying this form over into the race is crucial.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.