Bianchi to be retained by Marussia for 2014

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Marussia have confirmed that Jules Bianchi will remain with the team for the 2014 Formula One season following a highly impressive debut year for the Anglo-Russian team.

Bianchi, who is a member of Ferrari’s driver academy, was drafted into the backmarkers’ line-up at the last second in pre-season after planned driver Luiz Razia’s funding fell through. In his opening few races, Bianchi was highly impressive, soundly beating closest-rivals Caterham and recording a thirteenth-place finish in Malaysia that has kept Marussia tenth in the constructors’ championship. With Ferrari supplying the team with engines in 2014, it was expected that Bianchi would be retained, but the Frenchman is delighted for the new to now be official.

“Obviously it’s a great feeling for me,” Bianchi explained. “It was a really late call this year and I’ve already signed for next year so it’s amazing for me. I’m really happy to stay with Marussia because I feel really confident with them, I feel like at home. So I hope it will be a great season next year and I really want to thank them for that.”

Bianchi has led Marussia’s charge on all fronts this season, with the Singapore Grand Prix being the first race in 2013 that he had finished behind teammate Max Chilton. It is yet to be confirmed whether or not the Brit will remain at Marussia next year.

For Bianchi though, he can renew battle with Caterham duo Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde in the final six races of 2013 without worrying about his seat for 2014, and then turn attention to the raft of regulation changes set to take place for his second year in Formula One.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.