Shell And Pennzoil Grand Prix Of Houston

Wilson leads IndyCar second practice in Houston

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Justin Wilson, one of the talented shoes in the IZOD IndyCar Series field without a win thus far in 2013, led IndyCar’s second 45-minute practice session with a late flier on his 18th lap.

“I think it went reasonably well. It’s a tough track, really bumpy but when the grip comes up it feels good,” he said. “Once the car comes in it’s good. You’re bouncing around and hopefully landing in the right spot, trying not to lose things. I think we see a lot of that. It’s so hard to keep it on that knife edge. Hopefully we keep it up for tomorrow.”

The driver of the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda for Dale Coyne Racing set a fastest time of 1:04.4237. After getting acquainted with the temporary chicane installed in the first practice session earlier in the day, teams were able to attack further this afternoon before more track adjustments come overnight.

“That’s something else we’ll have to deal with is the track changing,” he said. “It’ll be tough to judge that braking point and especially if people get it wrong, it would be a tedious session. That’s been kind of the story of today, learning and evolving.”

Will Power was second and Tristan Vautier third, rounding out those who clocked a lap in the 1:04 range at the MD Anderson Center Speedway at Reliant Park. Power and Wilson raced in both Champ Car events held at the circuit in 2006 and 2007.

“I honestly couldn’t remember that much anyway,” Power deadpanned. “Obviously it was delayed with the chicane. Apart from that, it’s a vicious circuit. Learn the braking point. But it’s a good day for us; I think we have a good car.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay and two-time Houston winner Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five.

It was an adventurous session for points leader Helio Castroneves, who spun twice, and ended the session 11th. Power described how Castroneves has driven this season in pursuit of his elusive first championship.

“I think he’s just trying things; he’s an aggressive driver,” Power said. “He’s wanted a championship his whole career and is very close to getting that. To me, I’ve seen him at his absolute best this year. I think he’s driven the right way in every race to get the points, that’s put him in this position.”

Additionally interesting – perhaps humorous – was James Hinchcliffe’s trot down the length of the front straight in his firesuit and with his helmet still on after his newly pink No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet stopped at Turn 2.

Josef Newgarden didn’t complete a lap after damage incurred from the first practice session of the day.

Qualifying for Race 1 will occur from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Saturday morning. Rather than a Firestone Fast Six knockout session, qualifying will be a 30-minute session with the 24 cars split into two groups, each getting 12 minutes. That mirrors the format done for Race 2 at Detroit and Toronto, the previous two doubleheaders this season. The qualifying order for both days races will be based on a random draw and not these results.

A qualifying show was scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN and will be aired as planned; however, the content will change to cover the first practice sessions and additional material. Race 1 will still go live on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and Sunday’s at 1 p.m. ET, both on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Rosberg wary of engine power deficit in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg is anticipating a tough weekend in Abu Dhabi due to a deficit in engine power caused by the high mileage on his current unit.

Rosberg and the Mercedes team have managed to avoid any engine-related grid penalties in 2015 by keeping within the limit of four power units per season.

By doing so, Mercedes has been forced into extending the milage of its engines, with a failure for Rosberg at the Italian Grand Prix in September having a knock-on effect at the end of the season.

Rosberg therefore arrives in Abu Dhabi with an engine down on power that makes him wary of his chances despite leading practice on Friday.

“It’s been a good start here in Abu Dhabi, but it will be a tough weekend for me as I have quite a high mileage engine in my car,” Rosberg said.

“After the Monza problem, we have had to stretch the engine life more than we had planned over the 19 races, so I definitely have a small lack of power on the straights and therefore need to make up extra time in the corners.

“It will be a big battle with Lewis here. He didn’t really bring together his quick laps, so it will be even closer tomorrow I’m sure. I’m looking forward to it and I definitely want to win this race and give the boys in the garage a reason to celebrate at the end of the season.”

On the other side of the Mercedes garage, world champion Lewis Hamilton was left unhappy with Mercedes’ long-run pace in practice, believing that there is ground to be made up.

“The long run pace doesn’t feel quite as strong so that’s something I need to work on,” Hamilton said. “I’ll probably make some more tweaks tonight and hopefully tomorrow it will be better.

“It’s very hard to overtake here, so of course it’s better to be up on pole. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to win from further back.”

Renault: Lotus announcement “very likely” next week

xxxx during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
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Renault Formula 1 chief Cyril Abiteboul has said that the French manufacturer expects to make an announcement regarding its pending takeover of Lotus next week.

Renault has been engaged in negotiations with Lotus over a takeover of the team for many months, and signed a letter of intent back in September confirming its plans to revive a works F1 operation at Enstone.

Although a deal is still yet to be formally agreed and announced, Renault employees have already started working at Lotus to lay the foundations for 2016.

It was speculated that Renault may announce its takeover of Lotus during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, but Abiteboul confirmed on Friday that nothing would be made official at Yas Marina.

The Frenchman remained coy when asked what exactly Renault’s involvement in F1 would entail in 2016, saying: “I’m afraid I can’t answer to that question. I would like to be in a position to be able to answer to that questions, but I am not today.”

Despite there being no announcement in Abu Dhabi, Abiteboul said that he envisages one being made next week following the conclusion of the 2015 season.

“What I can say is that there will be no announcement regarding Renault’s future – short-term or middle-term future – over the weekend, but there will be an announcement, very likely, in the course of next week,” he said.

“We have always said that we would like to do that after the season. The season is ending on Sunday, around the start of December and that is what we will do stick to that plan, which is to make an announcement then.”

Abiteboul said that every effort was being made to finalize the deal with Lotus, but he is excited about the prospect of Renault returning to F1 with a works team for the first time since 2010.

“It’s fair to say that there is a process going on since the signing of the letter of interest on the 28th of September, there is a process involving a lot of people,” Abiteboul said.

“I think 50 people have been working night and day on the realisation of a possible acquisition of a majority stake in Lotus. It’s just a project, It’s been a proper rollercoaster, very exciting.”

Vettel, Raikkonen take on world’s fastest rollercoaster in Abu Dhabi (VIDEO)

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Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both live life at high-speed racing in Formula 1, but how would they get on when faced with the fastest rollercoaster in the world?

To celebrate the fifth birthday of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Vettel and Raikkonen took on the Formula Rossa rollercoaster alongside reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez and other members of the Ferrari team.

Raikkonen is known for being the ‘Iceman’ and showing little emotion, and this was true even at the fastest points of the rollercoaster ride as he kept a straight face while Vettel raised his arms and whooped with excitement.

Never change, Kimi…

Alonso: Tough year with McLaren “necessary”

xxxx during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
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Fernando Alonso believes that his tough 2015 Formula 1 campaign with McLaren was a “necessary” stage within his racing career.

Alonso left Ferrari at the end of 2014 after five seasons with the Italian marque to rejoin McLaren ahead of its new partnership with Japanese manufacturer Honda.

McLaren-Honda enjoyed immense success in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but 2015 has proven to be a stark juxtaposition thanks to numerous problems with the power unit.

The issues have limited Alonso to just two top-ten finishes in 2015, yielding 11 points to leave him a lowly 17th in the drivers’ championships.

However, the Spaniard was upbeat when reflecting on the season in spite of McLaren’s troubles, believing it to be an important stepping stone.

“Well, tough year, obviously difficult and struggling with the pace all year and the reliability, so definitely a difficult season for us,” Alonso conceded.

“But personally I think it was necessary. It was a step forward in my career after the two championships, after five fantastic seasons fighting for the world championship but arriving second, so I needed some new motivation, some new project that I could trust and I could believe is the only way to become champion again.

“After one difficult season, as I said, I learn so much. I enjoy working with McLaren, with Honda, with all the Japanese discipline and Japanese culture into the team.

“I still remain very positive. I’m very, very happy and looking forward to next year being a little bit easier than this one that, as I said, has been difficult in terms of results.”

Looking ahead to 2016, Alonso expects McLaren to make progress and move up the grid, but is unsure whether it will make enough of a leap forward to challenge for race wins once again.

“At the moment there’s a question mark, I guess, where McLaren-Honda can be next year,” Alonso said.

“There are a lot of expectations in the team. I think we worked really all season, being united in some difficult moments and always moving forward, so I think for 2016 the main goal for the team is to come back to where we belong, we think, and being competitive, fighting for the top positions.

“I don’t know if that means fighting for the championship, I don’t know if that means fighting for victories of just being on the podium sometimes, that’s always difficult to know in a very complex sport like Formula One.

“There are definitely some big challenges ahead in this winter and I see all the things that the team has done in the last couple of months and these seem very logical, very positive and I’m confident that it’s going to be a completely different season next year and I’m happy with the progress.”