Reports: Magnussen to replace Perez at McLaren

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No official confirmation has come from the team, but multiple media outlets are reporting Kevin Magnussen will replace Sergio Perez at McLaren in 2014.

The initial report was done by Autosport’s Jonathan Noble on Sunday, suggesting the 21-year-old Dane had emerged as favorite after team meetings post-the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. McLaren team boss called Perez’s efforts in Abu Dhabi, “disappointing.”

Then on Monday, BBC reporter Andrew Benson cited sources who said a contract isn’t signed, but the team has chosen Magnussen as the replacement. Veteran journalist Joe Saward also said in his blog McLaren has opted not to take its option up on Perez.

Magnussen has won this year’s World Series by Renault championship and impressed in two F1 tests.

Statistically speaking Perez hasn’t performed as well as teammate Jenson Button, but neither has been able to make much out of this year’s difficult chassis. Less than a week ago, though, reports were beginning to emerge that Perez’s seat was in doubt.

Assuming the team confirms the news, it presents a bit of a dilemma between three young drivers currently on this year’s grid. Lotus has a seat open and while Nico Hulkenberg has long been the favorite, commercial realities could see either Pastor Maldonado or now, Perez, switching into that seat. Maldonado’s officially a free agent with Monday’s earlier news that Felipe Massa will replace him at Williams.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.