Floyd (Left) and Chip Ganassi (Photo via CGR Teams Twitter account)

Tributes pour in for Floyd Ganassi

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Floyd Ganassi, who passed away Monday at age 87, left an indelible impact on the racing community. Tributes, statements and tweets have poured in in the less than 24 hours since the news, and what’s below is merely a sampling of the outpouring of support the racing community has for Chip Ganassi’s father.

The team has announced a funeral service to be held Thursday, August 22 at 10 a.m. at the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are a selection of reflections on Floyd Ganassi, either statements or tweets:

TWEETS

Mike Hull, Ganassi managing director: The loss of Floyd Ganassi today is hard to accept; life’s fragile nature is measured by how much we mean to each other.

Dario Franchitti, Ganassi IndyCar driver: Today our friend Floyd Ganassi passed away, he was a massive part of the team & our good luck charm. Rest in peace Floyd, you’re a great man

Charlie Kimball, Novo Nordisk Ganassi IndyCar driver: Floyd Ganassi will be very missed in the paddock. No matter what, he always brought a smile to everyone’s faces. A great man.

Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi IndyCar driver (2005 and 2013 Indianapolis 500): I will miss Floyd Ganassi dearly. He was always so good and kind to me. My thoughts are with Chip and his family now. #ripFloyd

Juan Pablo Montoya, Ganassi Cup driver: It’s a shame we lost today a great person. Floyd Ganassi we really gonna miss u. He was a great friend.

Graham Rahal, former Ganassi IndyCar driver: RIP Floyd Ganassi. One of the greatest all around men you will ever meet. I cherished the time spent with him. He will certainly be missed.

Joey Hand, Ganassi GRAND-AM winner of 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Happy to be back in the USA but very very sad to here that Floyd Ganassi has passed away. Glad to have met him. RIP Floyd.

Kyle Larson, Ganassi development driver: Sadden to hear about the passing of Chip Ganassi’s father Floyd. Thoughts and prayers go out to their family.

Tony Kanaan, IndyCar driver: RIP Floyd RT @CGRTeams Statement from Chip Ganassi Racing Teams on the Passing of Floyd Ganassi: pic.twitter.com/VG9FQ242es

Marino Franchitti, Dario’s brother, sports car driver: Rest in Peace Floyd Ganassi, going to miss his smiling face at the track & all the fantastic pics he’d take. We’ve lost a great man.

Holly Wheldon, sister of the late Dan Wheldon: Just heard the news that the very lovely Floyd Ganassi has passed away! Such a great guy at the track, will definitely be missed! #RIPFloyd

Kevin Lee, NBC Sports Network IndyCar pit reporter: Like many have stated, very saddened to hear of the passing of Floyd Ganassi. Always enjoyed visiting & will miss receiving his pics

Jenna Fryer, AP auto racing reporter: Floyd Ganassi was a special man. I’ll miss him, his photos, and the envelopes that arrived on Tuesdays. Such an honor to have known him.

Calvin Fish, former driver and current broadcaster: Tough day. Saddened by another loss in our paddock. Floyd Ganassi was a really cool guy who loved racing and Chips teams @CGRTeams #passion

Nicole Briscoe, racing broadcaster: Floyd Ganassi was always smiling & taking pictures. He’ll be greatly missed.

Pat Caporali, former Ganassi PR ace: I LOVE that Robin Miller talked about pix Floyd took every race wknd. I always looked forward to sorting through them for distribution.

Michael Andretti, IndyCar team owner, former Ganassi IndyCar driver: Really sad to hear of the loss of Floyd Ganassi today. My thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Ganassi family.

Bobby Rahal, IndyCar team owner: RIP Floyd Ganassi. A wonderful, generous man who epitomized “class”.

RLL Racing, IndyCar team: Our thoughts are with Chip, his family & all at CGR

IndyCar Ministry: Pray for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams on the Passing of Floyd Ganassi.  Pray for Chip and their family..  Godspeed Floyd.

Sebastian Saavedra, IndyCar driver: Thoughts for Chip Ganassi and the whole family on the passing of an amazing person. Floyd Ganassi.

John Barnes, Panther Racing team principal: Sad day yesterday learning of the passing of an old friend. The IndyCar paddock will never be the same. RIP Floyd Ganassi. We all loved you!

STATEMENTS

A.J. Foyt: “I’ve known Floyd for quite a few years–he was a real gentleman. I always looked forward to seeing him at the track. I know it’s going to hit Chip like it did me when my father died because Chip and Floyd were very close too. He was a great person and I thought the world of him.”

INDYCAR: INDYCAR offers its condolences to Chip Ganassi and the Ganassi family on the passing of his father, Floyd Ganassi. Floyd was a beloved member of the racing community who always was quick with a smile and handshake.  He will be missed.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway: “Everyone at IMS is saddened to learn of the loss of Floyd Ganassi. He was such a kind, approachable man who took the time to enjoy the company of drivers, officials and fans. The photographs he took at the racetrack and sent to so many friends and acquaintances will provide lasting, fond memories of his love of people and racing. Our condolences, thoughts and prayers are extended to the Ganassi family and everyone at Chip’s racing teams.”

Brian France, NASCAR Chairman/CEO: “Floyd Ganassi was a special man. He loved racing and was very important to me and my family. We wish him Godspeed and extend our sincere condolences to the entire Ganassi family. I hope they will find peace at this difficult time.”

Vettel: Front-row grid slot for Australia proof of Ferrari’s progress

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Sebastian Vettel believes that his charge to second place on the grid for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix acts as proof of the progress Ferrari’s Formula 1 operation has made over the winter.

Vettel arrived in Australia as one of the favorites to take pole following an impressive showing in pre-season testing, prompting three-time champion Lewis Hamilton to name Ferrari as the leading team.

Hamilton rallied in qualifying to take pole position for Mercedes, beating Vettel by two-tenths of a second, but the Ferrari driver managed to fend off Valtteri Bottas in the second Silver Arrow and clinch a front-row berth.

The result marked Ferrari’s best qualifying result since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix – Vettel’s and Ferrari’s last pole and victory in F1 – and the German was encouraged by the result.

“I think we have a good car. I think we are working well as a team,” Vettel said.

“Things are improving. Obviously it’s nice to see that things are working, the car is working. I had a mixed day yesterday, but the confidence in the car was there from testing and I think we showed that again today.”

Vettel conceded that he felt his final lap in qualifying could have been faster, but doubts it would have been enough to catch pole-sitter Hamilton.

“In the end I was not entirely happy with my lap. I was pretty happy with the end, maybe not so much with the opening of the lap where we lost a bit too much,” Vettel said.

“But I think Lewis did a very good lap. I would have loved to, but I don’t think pole was up for grabs. Tomorrow I think we can do something in the race. The car feels good, we’ve improved it so the pace should be much better than it was yesterday when we had practice.

“It’s been a big winter for us, lots of change we’ve gone through as a team in the last 12 months, and for the better. I think the team is getting stronger.

“Obviously everyone is pushing very hard and it’s not so easy to come here with a long journey to get to Australia, but I think people are fired up and we are motivated for tomorrow.

“I think it’s the first good opportunity.”

Hamilton buoyed by sixth Australia F1 pole, ready for tight race

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Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton was buoyed by his charge to pole position in Australian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday, but is braced for a tight race at the front of the pack.

Hamilton saw off a challenge from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and new Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to capture his sixth pole at Albert Park, and the 62nd of his F1 career.

Hamilton had doubts over Mercedes’ advantage over Ferrari heading into the new year, making his charge to pole all the more meaningful as he paid tribute to the team members after qualifying.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend so far. It’s quite amazing to come here for I think the 11th time, and it feels like it was only yesterday that I came here and had my first race here in 2007,” Hamilton said.

“I’m just incredibly proud of my team. This rule change has been huge and such a massive challenge for everyone. The guys have just worked so hard to make this car what it is today.”

Despite taking pole by almost three-tenths of a second in Q3, Hamilton is braced for a close fight on Sunday with Vettel and Bottas, the latter starting his first race for Mercedes from third on the grid.

“Valtteri did a fantastic job given it’s his first qualifying session with the team. He did a great job and it’s great for Mercedes,” Hamilton said.

“Looking forward to the race, it’s close between us all. As you can see, there’s going to be a tight race this year I think.

“I think tomorrow is about putting all the work that’s gone in over the winter, all the work that’s gone through testing and this whole weekend and really put it to work tomorrow.

“I’ll make sure I get a good night’s sleep and come back tomorrow stronger than ever.”

The Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from midnight ET on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton sees off Vettel challenge to take Australian GP pole

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Lewis Hamilton saw off challenges from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to pick up the first Formula 1 pole position of the year in Australian Grand Prix qualifying.

Hamilton topped the timesheets on Friday to give Mercedes hope of continuing its impressive qualifying form from 2016, when it took 20 poles from 21 races.

However, Ferrari looked poised to strike and take its first pole position since Singapore 2015 as Vettel led final practice, setting up a close battle in qualifying.

Hamilton took provisional pole with his first Q3 run, going three-tenths faster than Vettel, and was able to find a further three-tenths on his second run to make pole all but his.

Vettel refused to back down, producing a rapid final sector to gain plenty of time on Hamilton, but it was not enough to deny the Briton his 62nd F1 pole.

On his Mercedes debut, Bottas put in an impressive display to take third on the grid, finishing three-tenths off Hamilton’s time. Fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen ended the session fourth in the second Ferrari.

Max Verstappen led Red Bull’s charge in fifth, while Haas driver Romain Grosjean put in a stellar display to take sixth on the grid. Felipe Massa will start his comeback race from seventh ahead of the Toro Rosso pair of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat.

Local favorite Daniel Ricciardo’s difficult home race weekend continued as he crashed out at Turn 14, wrecking the rear of his Red Bull RB13. While Ricciardo was physically unharmed, the Australian’s ego was left bruised as he was resigned to starting the race from 10th on the grid.

Sporting is bright pink livery, Force India failed to light up the gloomy conditions in Melbourne as it suffered a double-elimination in Q2. Sergio Perez qualified 11th, while rookie teammate Esteban Ocon will make his first start in Australia from 14th on the grid. Nico Hulkenberg saw his 13-race streak of Q3 appearances ended as he could only qualify P12.

One of the biggest talking points from the early part of qualifying was Fernando Alonso’s titanic effort to put his McLaren-Honda 13th on the grid. Following a tough winter marred by reliability issues, Alonso dragged his car through to Q2 and did “all he could”, yet the issues faced by the team meant no Q3 berth was forthcoming.

Sauber enjoyed an impressive start to the year as Marcus Ericsson made it through to Q2, eventually qualifying 15th. Last-minute substitute Antonio Giovinazzi was poised to also get out of Q1 on debut, only for a mistake on his final lap to leave him 16th overall.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen failed to get in a late lap, leaving him 17th on the grid for his first race with the American team, while a fuel flow issue meant Stoffel Vandoorne could only qualify 18th for McLaren.

Lance Stroll’s baptism of fire in F1 continued as he finished 2.9 seconds off the pace in P19 for Williams, while Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was made to pay for his lack of track time, rounding out the grid in P20.

The Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from midnight ET.

Lance Stroll set for Australia grid penalty after gearbox change

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Formula 1 rookie Lance Stroll has been forced into a gearbox change ahead of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix following a crash in final practice at Albert Park.

Stroll lost the back-end of his Williams FW40 car coming out of Turn 10, hitting the wall and causing damage to the right-hand side and rear of his chassis in the process.

The crash brought out a red flag that ultimately caused FP3 to end early, with Stroll returning to the pit lane on the back of a marshal’s moped.

After bringing the car back to the pit lane, Williams confirmed that it would have to change Stroll’s gearbox ahead of qualifying, which will trigger a five-place grid penalty for the Canadian.

Stroll’s crash comes after a mixed pre-season program that saw him suffer three shunts in the opening week in Barcelona, raising concerns about his readiness for F1.

Stroll bounced back in the second week of running, racking up plenty of mileage in Williams’ 2017 car to back up his extensive private test program in the team’s 2014-spec F1 car last year.

At just 18 years old, Stroll is set to become the second-youngest F1 driver on Sunday, trailing only Red Bull’s Max Verstappen whose first start came at the age of 17 in 2015.