Perez and Gutierrez give Mexican fans plenty to smile about

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Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez certainly did not disappoint the large Mexican contingency that was present in Austin for today’s United States Grand Prix, with some reports suggest that as much as 40% of the crowd was cheering on the two drivers who flirted with the points throughout the race.

Gutierrez’s charge to fourteenth in the race at the Circuit of the Americas was impressive given the number of setbacks he suffered throughout the weekend. After impressing in qualifying to finish in tenth place, the Sauber driver was given a ten-place grid penalty for blocking Pastor Maldonado during Q1 that meant that he started the race from P20. A first-lap run in meant that he was forced to pit on the first lap for a change of tires, immediately putting him onto a two-stop strategy.

Nevertheless, he fought back well to find himself scrapping with Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo for tenth place on the last lap, but, in an overzealous attempt to pass Jean-Eric Vergne, Gutierrez spun off into the gravel on the last lap and eventually brought his car home in fourteenth place. He is now under investigation after the incident.

Sergio Perez managed to score points for the third race in a row, answering the critics who supported McLaren’s decision to drop him in favor of Kevin Magnussen. A good start saw him leapfrog Fernando Alonso at the start, but he dropped behind the Ferrari driver after his pit stop, narrowly failing to get ahead. He was then unable to keep up with Alonso’s pace, eventually crossing the line in P7 ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas.

With both drivers still looking for a seat on next year’s grid, these two gutsy drives should have caught the attention of many teams who could be looking to bring a Mexican driver in for 2014.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.