Alexander Rossi claims maiden GP2 victory in Abu Dhabi

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Alexander Rossi has claimed his maiden GP2 victory in Abu Dhabi after a sensational performance that will certainly help his cause to become the first American Formula One driver since Scott Speed in 2007.

Rossi has balanced his GP2 campaign with testing duties at Caterham, and the support series has seen him flourish with three podium finishes in 2013. However, after scoring his first pole position yesterday, Rossi went on to win the race ahead of Britain’s Jolyon Palmer.

Off the start, Rossi lost out to Palmer and was trailing him by as much as 3.3 seconds ahead of his late first pit stop. The American driver said that he was coming in “too late” on the radio, but it proved to be a masterstroke. By pitting two laps earlier than his rival, Rossi managed to make up the time meaning that Palmer emerged from the pits in second place.

Despite a late safety car period, Rossi managed to control the race from the front in the final few laps to eventually win the race by just over two seconds.

The race also saw the GP2 championship decided as Fabio Leimer finished fourth to establish an unassailable points lead over Britain’s Sam Bird. With GP2 being the direct support series to F1, it is likely that he could follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado by making the step up in the near future.

However, the race belonged to Rossi. Fans in the U.S. will get the chance to see him run at Austin later this month when he takes part in the first free practice session for Caterham.

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

Photo: Getty Images
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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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