Night race possible for GP of Houston in 2014

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The 2014 edition of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston could take place at night, as race promoter and IndyCar team co-owner Mike Lanigan said that his group was “investigating” the prospect.

This weekend’s doubleheader marks the first year of a five-year pact between the Houston race and the series, but it is expected to find a new date on the 2014 schedule.

Considering the 96-hour scramble to convert the parking lot of Reliant Stadium into a 1.7-mile race track following the end of the Houston Texans’ game last Sunday, one could argue that Lanigan would prefer a date before football season kicks in.

Lanigan indicated that he has indeed found a date for Houston in 2014 (a date he said he wants to stay as a doubleheader), but wouldn’t reveal it.

“I have a memory lapse right now,” Lanigan said with a grin before adding, “I don’t think I’m permitted to say anything on that.”

The event has gotten off to a rocky start after a track repair issue scrapped or delayed multiple practice sessions this morning for the various series that are racing here in Houston. A temporary chicane has been installed at the problem spot in Turn 1 for the remainder of today’s activity before grinding takes place later tonight.

Still, as Lanigan noted, his group did take on a massive project with very little time to spare.

“It’s certainly a challenge, to say it mildly,” he said. “Normally, a street course takes four to six weeks. We did it in four days. We thought we had it right and we were finished around 5:30 this morning. Unfortunately, we missed something extremely important coming out at Turn 1.

“We’ve got some work to do tonight, but we’re really pleased we got everything here and everybody seems to be happy, so it’s been a success…Quite frankly, I feel a lot better today than I did last Saturday when we first got here.”

Hartley’s F1 grid penalty streak continues in Abu Dhabi

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Brendon Hartley’s record of receiving a grid penalty at every Formula 1 race he has started is set to continue in Abu Dhabi this weekend after Toro Rosso was forced to change part of his Renault power unit following the last race in Brazil.

Since making his F1 debut at the United States Grand Prix last month, Hartley has faced a grid drop at all three races he has started so far amid ongoing reliability difficulties for power unit supplier Renault.

After being forced to retire from the last race in Brazil two weeks ago due to an engine issue, Hartley has received a 10-place grid penalty for Abu Dhabi after it was confirmed Toro Rosso had changed the MGU-H on his power unit.

Hartley is yet to score any points in F1, having retired from two of his three races so far to make his debut run to P13 in Austin his best result to date.

The Toro Rosso driver finished 20th in FP1 and 19th in FP2 during Friday’s practice sessions in Abu Dhabi as he continued to get to grips with the Yas Marina Circuit.