F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice

Vettel quickest once again in final Singapore practice

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Sebastian Vettel has continued to dominate practice for the Singapore Grand Prix after finishing the final session quickest ahead of qualifying later today.

The German driver posted a best lap time of 1:44.173, finishing just under two-tenths ahead of Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and over one second clear of his closest championship rival Fernando Alonso.

However, Red Bull could not repeat the one-two finish from FP2 yesterday as Mark Webber made a mistake on his final run to finish fourth and almost three-quarters of a second slower than his teammate.

Final practice got underway in the diminishing light of the early evening, with qualifying set to take place in complete darkness. Most drivers chose to venture out on the harder tire for their first runs, with Caterham drivers Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic being the first to emerge from the pits. They were soon joined out on track by Adrian Sutil, who at one point had set an identical time to Pic before going quicker on his second run. Teammate Paul di Resta sent his car into a spin in pursuit of a faster lap time, whilst Esteban Gutierrez ran wide under braking and was very lucky to not put his Sauber into the wall. Ahead of the front-runners’ first times, Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest man on the circuit, closely followed by teammate Jean-Eric Vergne.

However, the Australian’s dominance was not going to last long. Nico Rosberg soon moved to the head of the field, only for an impressive lap time from Romain Grosjean to overthrow the Mercedes driver as Lewis Hamilton split the pair in P2. Red Bull soon resumed normal service following their domination of FP2, with Mark Webber going three-tenths faster than Hamilton half way through the session. Having topped second practice yesterday, Vettel could not initially beat his teammate, falling just 0.079 seconds short on the medium tire to sit P2 whilst Fernando Alonso’s struggles continued down in P6, eight-tenths off the pace.

With ten minutes to go, the teams undertook their final simulations for qualifying, lightly-fuelling the cars and putting on the super-soft tires. Grosjean was the first driver to venture out on the red-ringed rubber, immediately going fastest. Alonso could not match the Frenchman’s pace, lagging eight-tenths behind after his first flying lap. A mistake from Webber saw him fall short and only manage P4 behind Rosberg, with Hamilton trailing in fifth. A slight scrape with the wall was van der Garde’s only mistake in an otherwise good session for Caterham as they once again outpaced closest-rivals Marussia. Inevitably, Vettel pulled out a fine lap on the option tire to go quickest by 0.191 seconds.

Grosjean’s good showing suggests that Lotus could spring an upset in qualifying later today, but, given the nature of Vettel’s dominance so far this weekend, it will be an uphill task for any driver to overthrow the defending world champion at the top of the timesheets.

Williams to announce 2017 F1 line-up on November 3

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 23: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 23, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Williams Martini Racing will announce its line-up for the 2017 Formula 1 season on November 3 following the Mexican Grand Prix.

Williams will change its line-up for the first time in three seasons next year when Felipe Massa retires from F1.

The Brazilian will be replaced by 17-year-old Lance Stroll, who won the FIA F3 title in 2016 with Prema Powerteam.

Stroll is set to join Valtteri Bottas, who, despite being subject to interest from Renault, is set to extend his stint as a race driver with Williams into a fifth season.

Stroll will become the second-youngest driver to make his F1 debut at the start of the 2017 season, and the youngest since the FIA introduced a lower-age limit of 18 to F1. The Canadian turns 18 this Saturday.

Williams currently sits fifth in the constructors’ championship with three races remaining in the 2016 season, with one podium to its name so far courtesy of Bottas in Canada.

Force India move ‘definitely an option’ for Ericsson in 2017

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 23: Marcus Ericsson of Sweden driving the (9) Sauber F1 Team Sauber C35 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 23, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Marcus Ericsson says that a move to Force India for the 2017 Formula 1 season is “definitely an option”, but is also excited by the prospect of remaining at Sauber.

Ericsson is currently embarking in his third season in F1 and his second with Sauber, having scored nine points during his stint with the Swiss team.

Sauber currently sits at the foot of the constructors’ championship, with neither Ericsson nor Nasr scoring a point after a turbulent financial period for the team.

Sauber’s long-term future was secured over the summer when Longbow Finance completed a takeover, its backers allegedly having links to Ericsson.

However, the Swedish driver is open to a move away from the team at the end of the season, and believes that the vacant seat at Force India is the most lucrative on the grid.

“I think all the drivers that don’t have a contract for next year yet are looking at the [Force India] seat,” Ericsson said.

“Force India is a competitive car at the moment so it’s definitely an option.

“Sauber is an exciting option for me for next year because they have a very strong project building.

“Hopefully sooner rather than later I will know what’s happening next year for me.”

Gutierrez strongly considering alternatives to Haas F1 for 2017

SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 15:  Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico and Haas F1 walks in the Paddock  during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 15, 2016 in Singapore.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Esteban Gutierrez says that he is strongly considering alternative options to Haas for 2017 as the American team continues to wait before making a decision on its Formula 1 line-up.

Gutierrez returned to F1 full-time in 2016 after one year away, joining NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new racing operation.

Gutierrez has failed to score any points in the opening 18 races of the year, while teammate Romain Grosjean has 29 to his name.

Haas is known to be currently considering its line-up for 2017, with Grosjean poised to stay.

Gutierrez’s future is less clear, but said in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix that he wanted it to be resolved in the next two weeks.

“I think Gene has been very clear in the media. They want to wait a few races,” Gutierrez said.

“Fortunately we have other options which we are now considering strongly.

“I think it would be important to close something soon because we cannot risk to just wait a few more races to the end of the season, and risk falling between two chairs.

“Things are looking good for next season.”

When asked if he had a personal deadline for firming up his 2017 plans, Gutierrez said: “The deadline should be in the next two weeks.”

Should Gutierrez leave Haas, drives at Force India and Renault are likely to be on the Mexican’s radar, with both teams having one free seat.

Tony and Lauren Kanaan welcome new baby Max into the world

SONOMA, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Tony Kanaan of Brazil drives the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Dallara during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway on September 17, 2016 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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Tony Kanaan and wife Lauren have welcomed a new baby into the world, with “TK” announcing the birth of son Max on Thursday.

Max joins other sons Deco and Leo in the Kanaan family. Kanaan reported both mom and baby are doing well.

This is the latest new arrival to the Verizon IndyCar Series, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and wife Beccy welcoming their third son Rhodes (after Ryden and Roczen) in September, and with Will Power and wife Liz expecting their first child in December.

Kanaan has re-signed with Chip Ganassi Racing and will drive the team’s No. 10 NTT Data Honda once more in 2017.