Will Power

Power primed for a third Sonoma win

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It’s been a dry spell for Verizon Team Penske driver Will Power. The Australian powerhouse has, for various reasons, been stuck in a winless drought since Sao Paulo, Brazil, in April, 2012. A total of 25 races have passed since he emerged victorious.

But as Team Penske has consistently led the IndyCar contingent at Sonoma over the last three years – Power and former teammate Ryan Briscoe have won the last three races at Sonoma between them – this is as good a spot as any for Power to finally break his duck.

“I can’t wait to get back there. It’s a track I’ve had a lot of success on,” Power said in a media teleconference on Monday. “Although the competition has definitely heated up this year, we still expect to be running right at the front.”

Power discussed the improved competition level in IndyCar earlier this year in a MotorSportsTalk interview, and elaborated on it as one of the reasons why winning has gotten harder in 2013.

“There have been nine different winners this year, so it’s really hard to predict how fast you’re going to be, and you know, who is going to be in the front and who you’re going to be challenging,” he said. “The competition is definitely tougher, for sure. There are some things that were homologated at the end of last year, which gave us a little bit of an advantage and every other Chevy team. The car itself, you’re really boxed into a corner as far as setup. There’s not much adjustment on this car that you can do because of the way it was designed with this rearward weight distribution. So you’re stuck, and you can’t set it up to suit yourself. You have to drive it as it is. I think that that itself closes the field up.”

It should be a straightforward two-stop race at Sonoma, over the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma’s 85 laps (4 p.m EST, Sunday, NBCSN). The last couple years have seen fewer full-course cautions on permanent road courses (just one at Barber, zero at Mid-Ohio this year), which allows for maximum attack the entire race.

“That is the best possible scenario, if there is no yellows, because it means you don’t have to plan for anything,” Power said “Two‑on‑two, just a real race there; there’s no manipulation by a yellow. That’s been the case on quite a few of the road courses in the last couple years for INDYCAR. They have been very green races. Basically, it just shows that the level, the standard of driving, has done really ‑‑ has gone up a lot.  People don’t make mistakes anymore.”

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.