Sebastien Bourdais

Bourdais breaks through, finishes 2nd in Toronto Race 1 (VIDEO)

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Normally, it would be a bit odd to see the second-place driver doing burnouts as if he had won the race. But after being unable to log a Top-10 result in the IZOD IndyCar Series’ first 11 races this season, Sebastien Bourdais can be excused for his smoky donuts after his runner-up performance in Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto weekend.

“It just feels like after everything we went through, to be on the podium just feels like a million wins,” Bourdais told NBC Sports Network after claiming his first podium finish since winning the 2007 Champ Car season finale at Mexico City to cap off his fourth consecutive series title.

“I can’t thank these guys enough for giving me the opportunity and for sticking with me. It’s been a rough ride so far, so hopefully, we can turn this thing around and it’s all good from now on.”

Equally jubilant was his Dragon Racing team owner, Jay Penske, whose team has battled through a trying campaign up to this point with Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra.

“It’s just an incredible feeling for our whole team,” Penske said to NBCSN. “We’ve worked so hard for it. This is just a great step forward for the team.”

Bourdais started second and was a contender throughout the day. He took the lead from pole sitter Dario Franchitti on Lap 22 and held it until just after the first cycle of pit stops ended, when Will Power got by him for P1 at Lap 32.

The Frenchman was running in third up to his final stop at Lap 63, which enabled him to get by Will Power for second place but also placed him on the quicker-but-softer red alternate tires. A restart at Lap 65 bunched up the field, and on the restart at Lap 70, Bourdais got the jump on leader Scott Dixon.

However, with no push-to-pass boosts left to protect his lead, Bourdais was unable to hold off a hard-charging Dixon on the black primary tires. Using one of his two remaining boosts on the back stretch, Dixon made the race-winning pass on Bourdais with eight laps remaining.

But that did nothing to dampen the spirits of Bourdais afterwards, who admitted that being at the front was a nerve-wracking experience.

“It was like, ‘What’s gonna happen again?’,” he said. “I was just so stressed out because we’ve had so many good runs but never the end result. It just feels so sweet to be here right now.”

The only real issue for Bourdais this afternoon would appear to be his runner-up trophy, as the crystal cup fell off the base and smashed to pieces just after he claimed it (see above).

One awkward moment later, he simply raised the base to the cheers of the crowd. Trophies can be broken, but the memories of today will surely endure for one of American open-wheel racing’s finest.

Helmut Marko: Modern-day F1 drivers are overpaid

xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 19, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.
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Red Bull Racing team advisor Helmut Marko believes that modern-day Formula 1 drivers are overpaid due to the reduced risk and easier driving conditions they experience.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel are two of the highest-paid drivers on the grid in 2016, earning upwards of $30 million per year from their teams.

However, Marko believes that drivers in F1 are overpaid as there is now a reduced risk of suffering a fatal accident, and that with the cars being easier to drive, their worth has decreased.

“Basically, the drivers of today are definitely overpaid for two reasons,” Marko told Sport Bild in Germany.

“Firstly, there is only a small risk that serious accidents can result in injury or even be fatal.

“Secondly, young top talent like [Max] Verstappen or [Pascal] Wehrlein can take the modern car and straight away easily do 100 laps without tiring.

“Previously you had even a Vettel have to take breaks because he was not used to the high centrifugal forces. This means that the cars are easier to drive. The drivers must do less.”

Wolff: Wehrlein, Ocon deserve Formula 1 roles

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 23:  Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during Formula One testing at the Red Bull Ring on June 23, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)
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Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff believes that junior talents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both earned their roles in Formula 1 for the 2016 season “on merit”.

Wehrlein will make his grand prix debut in 2016 with Manor Racing after winning the DTM title for Mercedes last year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the series.

Ocon has been loaned to Renault Sport F1 Racing for its comeback season, and will work as the team’s reserve driver following his GP3 title success last year.

Wolff feels that both drivers deserve their chance in F1 this year, and also said that Mercedes will look to expand its junior program across the course of the season.

“We’re delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016,” Wolff said. “Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula 1 programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.

“It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula 1 on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system. Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there – and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series.

“But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground. This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior program.

“Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future.”

Social roundup: When Mika Hakkinen met CJ Wilson, and other cool shots

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 15:  Former F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen is seen during practice for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2011 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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What happens when you put a McLaren P1 owned by baseball star and CJ Wilson Racing team principal, and occasional driver, CJ Wilson, with two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen, and you turn them loose at The Thermal Club for a track day?

Pure awesomeness.

Of course there’s other cars besides the McLaren and hockey legend, Teemu Selanne, was also on site.

This really isn’t a post so much that needs words, but one that does need proper photos and noise.

The CJWR pairing of Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett, who drive the No. 33 One Capital/Motor Oil Matters Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport dubbed “Darth Cayman” in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, have been coaching and driving at an event this weekend out at The Thermal Club, a luxury race track in California.

See a mix of photos and videos below:

Ecclestone gives Monza until end of February to resolve F1 future

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium next to Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 6, 2015 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has given officials at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza until the end of February to resolve the future of the Italian Grand Prix.

Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix for all but one year since 1950 when the F1 world championship was formed, establishing itself as one of the series’ most historic and legendary venues.

However, its future has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months following a cut in the amount of tax relief that the race receives by the Italian government.

Ecclestone said back in November that he had “no doubts” the race would remain on the calendar and extend its contract beyond the end of 2016 when it expires.

However, the 85-year-old has now cast fresh doubt on the race in an interview with Reuters, giving the circuit until the end of February to resolve its future.

“It’s Italian. A lot of conversations at the moment and not much action,” Ecclestone said.

“They said to me a few months ago: ‘Everything is sorted out, we know exactly where we are and it’s all agreed and no dramas.’

“And now I heard yesterday it’s become very political… They’ll get on with it. Or not. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Nothing we can do about it.

“The only people that can sort this out are the people that are currently involved in Italy. They can take as long as they like, provided it’s by the end of this month.”

The 2016 Italian Grand Prix is set to take place at Monza on September 4.