Wing and KERS problems thwart Kovalainen on comeback

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Heikki Kovalainen failed to add to Lotus’s constructors’ championship tally on his comeback to F1 in place of the absent Kimi Raikkonen.

Kovalainen made a slow start to the race, losing four places from his starting position of eighth, then ran into technical problems with his E21 chassis.

“My start wasn’t great but then it was going okay until the first pit stop as I was racing with the pack with the car feeling quite good,” said Kovalainen.

“After the pit stop I started to have a few problems, but it was difficult to know exactly what was going on. We had issues with downforce so we changed the front wing and after that it was much better, although still not as good as it’s felt previously this weekend.

“There was a KERS issue too, though not enough to account for my lack of race pace.”

Kovalainen finished 15th on the road and was promoted one place by Esteban Gutierrez’s penalty.

He will drive for the team again this weekend in Brazil as they try to overcome their 18-point deficit to Ferrari for third place in the constructors’ championship in the final race of the year. Second place for Romain Grosjean and fifth for Fernando Alonso narrowed the gap between the two teams by eight points in Austin.

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”