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Vandoorne among those who star in GP2, GP3 post-season testing

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The FIA GP2 and GP3 Series have got a few days of post-season testing in the books at Abu Dhabi following last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Both of their seasons are in the books – Fabio Leimer and Daniil Kvyat have captured the respective titles – and this test provided a look at some hoping to impress for 2014.

Chief among them is McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium, who blitzed the Yas Marina circuit with a record lap of 1:48.657 on the third day of GP2 testing, driving for DAMS. The pole time set during the race weekend was American Alexander Rossi’s mark of 1:48.931. Vandoorne had not driven a GP2 car prior to the test, and raced in the World Series by Renault this year.

Giovanni Venturini (Trident) and Rio Haryanto (Caterham) also got into the 1:48 range during the afternoon session on day 3.

GP3 runner-up Facu Regalia got down to a 1:49.373 driving for the Barwa Addax operation in GP2. It would make sense for him to jump into GP2 with series champion Kvyat moving up to Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2014.

American Conor Daly’s waiting paid off and he had an opportunity with ART’s GP2 car. He only had one new set of tires available to him, which he used in the afternoon session. It marked his first GP2 outing since a one-off at Malaysia at the start of the year.

Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser led the GP3 sessions for Arden after eclipsing the mark set by ART’s Oliver Rowland in the morning of day 3. Niederhauser’s best time was a 1:55.372.

A few other names to note from GP3: Indy Lights driver Jack Hawksworth ended the third day of testing 10th fastest (1:55.991), fellow Englishman Dean Stoneman followed up his excellent Abu Dhabi race weekend with third place of 1:55.565, and Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough, who competed at Le Mans this year in an LMP2 Zytek Nissan, was sixth quickest at 1:55.721.

Full results from GP2 and GP3 testing are linked here via their official websites.

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.