Alonso clinches second in World Championship with fifth in USGP (VIDEO)

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Fernando Alonso has clinched second in the 2013 Formula One World Championship with fifth place in the United States Grand Prix.

Alonso had an uncharacteristic start as he lost a position from sixth on the grid, as Sergio Perez moved ahead and Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean were also the quick starters from their respective positions. A challenging race followed, although a nice move on Esteban Gutierrez after his first pit stop on Lap 29 was his highlight. All race, he struggled with the grip level.

“It was difficult race,” Alonso told NBC’s Will Buxton after the race. “For us from the start, we lost one position to Perez. I was able to run so close. Managing the tires. Then I found a bit of pace around pit stop time. Nico was coming back attacking again.

“The main goal was to help fight for the Constructor’s Championship, we did all we could. But for whatever reason we are losing a little bit of pace. We need to find a bit at Brazil.”

Alonso also described the challenge of a one-stop race: “You never know how much you need to push, overtake or save the tires,” he told Buxton.

The Ferrari driver has not managed the same level of results as he did a year ago with a chassis that is still only about fourth or fifth best in the field at best. Still, consistency and the demise of some of the challengers around him leaves him with an unassailable margin for the vice championship.

Alonso has 227 points, which is 40 points clear of three drivers separated by only six points for third. Hamilton has now moved up to third place with 187, ahead of the injured Kimi Raikkonen on 183 and Mark Webber on 181.

For a comparison of how far ahead Sebastian Vettel is, though, his eighth straight victory achieved today brings him to 372 points. Vettel’s mark is only 42 clear of second and third, combined at 414.

Ferrari still has a shot at second in the Constructor’s Championship, as well. Today’s results leave the Scuderia third with 333 points, 15 behind Mercedes (348) and 18 clear of Lotus (315).

Ferrucci steps up to Formula 2 with Trident for rest of season

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American racer Santino Ferrucci will make the step up to FIA Formula 2 for the remainder of the 2017 season, linking up with Trident.

Ferrucci, 19, made his GP3 debut in 2016 and has raced in the series ever since, balancing development duties with the Haas Formula 1 team.

The native of Woodbury, Connecticut will make his F2 debut this weekend in Hungary, securing a seat with Trident for the rest of the season.

“We are really proud to announce the agreement reached between Team Trident and the American racer Santino Ferrucci for the final five rounds of the FIA Formula 2 season,” Trident team manager Giacomo Ricci.

“The 19-year-old already had the chance to test one of our GP3 Series cars in last November’s collective postseason test at Abu Dhabi.

“Back then, he impressed the team’s staff, bringing home great results and keeping his name among the top-5 at all times.

“He is now set to make his Formula 2 debut at Budapest, on the same track where he led the way in GP3 Series testing.

“I am sure that Santino has all the skills needed to adapt to a Formula 2 car very quickly. Also, thanks to his Formula 1 experience, he will not have problems in managing more power and carbon fiber brakes.”

Pirelli confirms Brazil, Abu Dhabi tire selections to finish 2017

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Pirelli has confirmed the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix tire selections for the final two races of the season, which brings to a conclusion all the selected sets for the rest of the way.

Pirelli will have the supersoft, soft and medium compounds on offer at Sao Paulo in Brazil with the ultrasoft back for Abu Dhabi with the supersoft and soft compounds.

The Abu Dhabi selections will match those at Austin and Mexico City for that back-to-back in October.

Here are the remaining tire selections for after the summer break. At Hungary this weekend, teams can run the supersoft, soft and medium.

  • August 27: Belgium, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft
  • Sept. 3: Italy, Supersoft, Soft, Medium
  • Sept. 17: Singapore, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft 
  • Oct. 1: Malaysia, Supersoft, Soft, Medium
  • Oct. 8: Japan, Supersoft, Soft, Medium
  • Oct. 22: USA, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft 
  • Oct. 29: Mexico, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft
  • Nov. 12: Brazil, Supersoft, Soft, Medium
  • Nov. 26: Abu Dhabi, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft

American Flat Track shows now part of NBCSN’s ‘Overdrive’ block

Photo: American Flat Track/Ricky Fuentes
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American Flat Track shows on NBCSN will be part of the “Overdrive” block on Thursday nights, the series announced. Races from Turf Paradise and beyond take place every Thursday from here through October 12.

The release from the series is below:

This Thursday night, American Flat Track (AFT) shifts into primetime to serve as a cornerstone of NBCSN’s Overdrive, a new high-octane motorsports programming block slated to run weekly throughout the summer and fall.

Tune in Thursday, July 27, at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) for an hour of gripping flat track motorcycle racing as NBCSN provides coverage of the Law Tigers Arizona Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle. Every American Flat Track show within the Overdrive block has been expertly produced with intense onboard camera footage, slow motion replays and behind-the-scenes feature content to showcase the 140mph+ tactical warfare and sub-tenth-of-a-second victory margins that define the sport.

Overdrive fans on Thursday night will be treated to an absolute barn burner from flag-to-flag in the AFT Singles Main Event, providing an early indication of the brilliance to come from AFT Singles standout Shayna Texter. The final half of the program goes in-depth with the Factory Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle squads, followed by an epic shootout between teammates Jared Mees, Brad Baker and defending champ, Bryan Smith, in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event.

Overdrive starts each Thursday at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) on NBCSN and takes a deep dive into wide world of motorsports. The television premiere schedule for American Flat Track on NBCSN’s Overdrive is as follows:

Date Location Track Time (ET) Time (PT) Network
Thursday, July 27 Turf Paradise Mile 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, August 3 Cal Expo Fairgrounds Mile 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, August 10 Illinois State Fairgrounds Mile 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, August 17 The Red Mile Mile 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, August 24 Remington Park Mile 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, August 31 Allen County Fairgrounds Half-Mile 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, September 7 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Half-Mile 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, September 7 Calistoga Speedway Half-Mile 11 PM 8 PM NBCSN
Thursday, September 14 Buffalo Chip TT 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, September 14 Black Hills Speedway Half-Mile 11 PM 8 PM NBCSN
Thursday, September 21 Peoria Motorcycle Club TT 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, September 21 Illinois State Fairgrounds Mile 11 PM 8 PM NBCSN
Thursday, September 28 Williams Grove Speedway Half-Mile 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN
Thursday, September 28 Texas Motor Speedway Half-Mile 11 PM 8 PM NBCSN
Thursday, October 12 Perris Auto Speedway Half-Mile 10 PM 7 PM NBCSN

Rayhall: One that got away in Austria

Photo courtesy United Autosports
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Editor’s note: Sean Rayhall, one of America’s rising driving talents, will file a series of blogs throughout the year chronicling his season in the European Le Mans Series, co-driving with John Falb at Zak Brown and Richard Dean’s United Autosports team in its Ligier JS P3. His third blog recaps a tough end to what had been a winning weekend in Austria, before a post-race penalty was assessed (previous blogs are linked here; Silverstone, Le Mans). 

The Red Bull Ring weekend for us came at a good time, to get back in a rhythm after I’d had quite a busy few weeks of travel leading into it. Between testing at Spa, coaching at Mont-Tremblant and resting up when I could it was good to have a nice flight back overseas to Austria on the Thursday before Round 3 of the ELMS season.

We felt really positive about our chances going into the weekend with how both the team and us as drivers performed separately last year, so we figured putting the two together could work out nicely for us.

Free practices didn’t go too much as planned, as we were a bit off. We were running a few things differently on our car and we were struggling to achieve the ultimate pace on new tires to qualify up front, although on old tires our pace was mega.

Photo courtesy United Autosports

My engineer “G-Baby” (Gary Robertshaw) was pretty grumpy at this point and to be completely honest, so was I. But what followed next was almost magical because of how rarely you see this happen.

Gary dug deep and worked incredibly hard to do what he did, to get us the pace in qualifying. Going in, he looked at me and said, “Alright, we are changing everything. It’s going to be better and you’re just going to have to drive whatever it is.”

From a driver’s eyes, this is both motivating and concerning. I was literally briefed in the car by radio five minutes before qualifying on how I was going to have to brake differently. That being said, long story short, throwing the kitchen sink at it worked and we qualified sixth, within a few tenths of the other Ligiers.

At race time I wasn’t sure what our race pace was going to be like, so I knew I needed to get to the front and keep as many people behind me as possible to secure a good race for us.

So launching flat out on the start going up the hill, everyone hugged the inside and I went “high side and handsome” to get us into P3 by Turn 3. As this is such a short track, you need to make positions up quickly before a lap gets away from you.

A few laps later we made the pass for P2 coming out of Turn 4, and we were on a mission. About 35 minutes into the first stint a GTE car came back on track in front of me, which caused me to completely flat spot the right front tire I had to race on till the end of my second stint.

This took a lot of patience because I knew I would give up P2, but I also knew that I had to nurse this tire for another hour and a half. So we hit a bad bit of traffic and (Giorgio) Mondini got by as I settled into P3 for the rest of my stints.

John got in the car on a mission and was chasing down the leader with new tires, and I’d have to say it was one of the best drives of his life.

Win celebrations were there at first, but were short-lived. Photo courtesy United Autosports

He got to the leader and it was a battle for about 45 minutes before the driver in the No. 11 Eurointernational car cracked under pressure and made contact with a lapped car. We weren’t home free yet, as we were assessed a drive through penalty for track limit violations as John was avoiding a GTE car. Somehow after serving the penalty we still came out on track 2.5 seconds ahead of second. And somehow, we were safe to bring it home and grab the win. Talk about a nail-biter weekend and an emotional roller coaster!

The initial post-victory celebrations before penalty. Photo courtesy United Autosports

We had a great afternoon getting our belongings and trophies, had a drink with the team, and then went to our favorite Italian man in Austria’s place for some pizza and a bottle of his famous Orange melon Liquor to take back to Vienna with us. Antonino was perhaps the oddest but funniest man we met it Austria. By far, John Falb, Scott Andrews, and I had the best dinner out of everyone from the track that night!

About an hour into the car drive back to Vienna, I received a phone call informing us we had been penalized for getting to 80 kph two seconds too late (failing to reduce enough speed), and they had given us a post-race penalty of 25 seconds. That gave the win away and put us in second place. To be honest, these were two penalties that we never gained time from, would never have been race deciding, that were allowed to decide our race for us.

Unfortunately, that’s racing and we will just have to work had enough to be able to handle 50 seconds in penalties at Paul Ricard – but ideally, not receive any further penalties assessed.

This is the challenge though and it’s up to us how we rise above it between John, myself, “G-Baby” and the entire United Autosports team, who again put us in a position to win. And the team still did get one win – our guys in the LMP2 car, Filipe, Will and Hugo, won the race overall in their Ligier! Congrats to them.

Thanks for reading guys! Will let you know how the next one goes!