Difficult day for Mercedes as Hamilton and Rosberg struggle

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Following practice on Friday, Mercedes appeared to be the only team that stood any chance of beating Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull in Korea, but ultimately the Silver Arrows failed to threaten the German driver’s dominance on Sunday, crossing the line in fifth and seventh.

Lewis Hamilton suffered from aggressive tire wear throughout the race, spending the final eighteen laps of the race stuck behind Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg.

“That was not a great day for us and it feels like we deserved more as a team,” Hamilton said after the race. “After Grosjean got ahead of me at the start, there was no way past and it seemed that we were losing out to other on traction cars all day. After the safety car, we were just losing out in traction to the Sauber.”

Hamilton did force his way past Hulkenberg on more than one occasion only for the German driver to recover the position thanks to the superior straight line speed of the Sauber.

“Our car was really strong through the middle sector but not quick enough on the straights to stay ahead,” Hamilton conceded. “It was a nice battle with Fernando [Alonso] but it’s hard to take when it’s only for P5 or P6. It was just not a good race for us today but we have the chance to bounce back in Suzuka.”

Nico Rosberg had been set to reach the podium at one point after passing Hamilton for third place, but a spectacular nose and front wing failure seconds later put paid to any hopes he may have had of scoring heavily.

“That was another very tough race for me,” Rosberg said. “I couldn’t believe what happened with the wing: I was on course for a podium finish after overtaking Lewis and two seconds later, the front wing just broke. It was pretty scary because that could have been a dangerous situation but the engineers told me over the radio that it was under control and I could carry some speed back to the pits.”

Eventually, Rosberg was forced to settle for seventh, but Mercedes did manage to cut the gap to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship to just one point.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.