No doubt over Alonso’s US Grand Prix participation

Leave a comment

Fernando Alonso’s participation in next week’s United States Grand Prix is not in doubt despite suffering back pain following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Alonso experienced a 28G force when he went over the turn three run-off at speed during Sunday’s race while overtaking Jean-Eric Vergne. That was sufficient to set off the medical alarm in his car which is normally only activated by a major crash.

Alonso finished the race in fifth place but was taken to hospital for checks on his back.

A Ferrari spokesperson told the BBC there were no concerns about his fitness: “He’s OK, just some pain and nothing more. The check-up was fine.”

Alonso was not penalized for overtaking Vergne off the track as the stewards ruled neither driver was able to avoid the incident.

Alonso said Vergne should have left him more room when he exited the pits alongside the Toro Rosso: “The rule states that if you have an equal amount of car to the other one on the
track then you can use all the space”.

“But this was only one incident in a race which, for me, was fantastic.”

Alonso’s fifth place increased his points gap over Kimi Raikkonen in the fight for second in the drivers’ championship.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.