Formula One’s 2013 confirmed and possible goodbyes at Brazil

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As ever, the end of a Formula One season marks the end of several eras, and the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix (11 a.m. ET, Sunday, on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra) is no different. You have several entities signing off to F1 altogether, some leaving their teams and others uncertain. Without further adieu, here’s who or what you’ll see for the last time in their current guise on Sunday:

LEAVING F1 ALTOGTHER

MARK WEBBER, TO RED BULL

Candid, outspoken, determined, gritty and all-around cool, Australia’s Mark Webber will start a Grand Prix for the 215th and final time on Sunday after a career dating to 2002.

Webber’s won nine Grands Prix and 13 pole positions – all with Red Bull, which he joined in 2007 – after prior stints at Williams, Jaguar and Minardi. His Minardi debut in his home grand prix in 2002 was a thing of beauty, a shock fifth place and a surprise trip to the podium after the main one.

Since Sebastian Vettel has arrived at Red Bull, the German has been relentless to gain the upper hand. For one last time though, we can dream of Webber taking it to his teammate, winning the finale (as he did in 2011) and perhaps, maybe, getting a good launch from the grid.

V8s, AND COSWORTHS

Perhaps fitting in a sense these two eras bow out at the same time. The first year of V8s, in 2006, Cosworth was permitted to run a grandfathered and rev-limited V10 at Toro Rosso. While the shrill shrieks of the V10s are long gone, the current hum and noise of the normally aspirated V8s will be replaced by the turbocharged, smaller 1.6L V6s next year. No one knows how they’ll sound yet in race situations, but for now, a chance to enjoy the V8s at historic Sao Paulo awaits.

As for Cosworth, it’s a shame given its overall history in the sport. The memorable Cosworth DFV – “off the shelf” – garnered 155 wins between 1967 and 1983. In its current iteration, Nico Hulkenberg’s pole for Williams in 2010 at Sao Paulo was the ultimate highlight.

DRIVERS LEAVING CURRENT TEAMS

FELIPE MASSA, TO FERRARI

Webber’s career hasn’t hit the same heights – or depths – as Massa’s has in his Ferrari career dating to 2006. This was a driver who largely outpaced Kimi Raikkonen in their two-and-a-half years as teammates, and a driver who of course famously, nearly, won the 2008 World Championship.

But the accident at Hungary in 2009, and the team orders controversy a year later at Hockenheim, has taken the wind out of the sails for the second half of Massa’s time at the Scuderia. It’s a lamentable end for a popular driver who seeks a rebirth at Williams next year.

SERGIO PEREZ, TO MCLAREN

On paper, Perez was the rising star picked to replace Lewis Hamilton this year, but McLaren opted to dump him after just one year prior to the USGP. Still, Perez has had his moments this year with a difficult chassis, and has proven enough in three seasons to merit another shot.

PASTOR MALDONADO, TO WILLIAMS

The excellent and staggering 2012 Spanish Grand Prix weekend aside, honestly, there’s little positive to be said about Maldonado’s three-year tenure at Williams other than he brought them a lot of money. His attitude and penchant for contact blotted his copybook rather frequently.

DANIEL RICCIARDO, TO TORO ROSSO

This is the under-reported part of Webber retiring; this is the last time the junior Australian on the grid will be racing with lower pressure and lower expectations. He’d better relish it because the media scrutiny will intensify at the Red Bull mothership next year.

TEAMS LEAVING CURRENT ENGINES

  • WILLIAMS will switch from Renault to Mercedes in 2014.
  • TORO ROSSO from Ferrari to Renault.
  • MARUSSIA from Cosworth to Ferrari.

COULD IT BE THE LAST TIME FOR?

  • For HEIKKI KOVALAINEN at Lotus…
  • For NICO HULKENBERG and/or ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ at Sauber…
  • Ditto for PAUL DI RESTA and/or ADRIAN SUTIL at Force India…
  • Ditto for CHARLES PIC and/or GIEDO VAN DER GARDE at Caterham…
  • Lastly, for MAX CHILTON at Marussia…

All will be revealed in due course. With the driver market far from sorted, this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix is the last 2013 chance to make a lasting impact.

Toro Rosso extends contract for technical director James Key

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Scuderia Toro Rosso technical director James Key will continue with the team for the foreseeable future, following a contract extension announced on Tuesday.

Key joined the team in 2012 and has seen the Faenza-based squad solidify its role in the upper midfield, with occasional surprise finishes that have pushed the team near the top three or four teams on the grid.

“I am delighted to continue with Toro Rosso and remain part of the Red Bull family,” he said. “This is a team which I have great respect for and have thoroughly enjoyed working with for the past 5 years; now I look forwards to continuing our project into the future.

“STR is unique, facing the challenges of being spread over two countries and fulfilling the roles of both a team in its own right and an important part of the Red Bull driver program: they are challenges that the team takes in its stride and, whilst doing so, continues to grow and improve year on year.

“Most importantly, the people I have had the pleasure to work with at STR are second to none: professional, ambitious and focussed, they have all worked incredibly hard to improve the team’s performance and will continue that hard work with the same dedication and optimism in the coming years too. I would like to thank Franz Tost and Red Bull for their continued support and confidence. We have more work to do, and I look forwards to taking the next steps with Toro Rosso towards our goals.”

Team principal Franz Tost added, Formula 1 is a team sport, but one in which an individual can still make a difference. So far, in his time with us, James has proved that he can indeed make that difference, leading the technical side of the operation.

“Not only has he been adept at producing chassis-aero packages that are well regarded throughout the paddock, he has also shown the management skills necessary to get the most out of all the various departments that work together both here in Faenza and in Bicester. I am therefore delighted that James will be with us for the foreseeable future to continue this fruitful process.”

Teams load up on supersoft tires for Italian GP

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There’s almost no variety in team Pirelli tire selections for the Italian Grand Prix, with nearly all teams going with two sets of softs and 10 sets of supersofts for next week’s race. All teams have selected just one set of mediums.

The only variance comes with Mercedes, Force India and Haas going with three sets of softs and nine supersofts. The rest are all the same choice, two softs and 10 supersofts.

Monza comes a week after Spa this week.

Pirelli’s tire breakdown is below.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee to serve as Gateway grand marshal

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The Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Gateway Motorsports Park for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline will feature quite an excellent grand marshal, in the form of three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

The full release from the track is below.

An Olympic champion has been selected to give the command to start engines for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline comes to Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois on August 26. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, will serve as the grand marshal for the Verizon IndyCar Series event.

“I am humble,” said Joyner-Kersee, who is a native of East St. Louis, Illinois. “I do not take this honor for granted to be the INDYCAR race’s grand marshal at Gateway Motorsports Park. Very few people are asked to give the command and I am grateful to be one of the few. Thank you!”

Track-and-field star Joyner-Kersee has won three Olympic gold medals, as well as one silver and two bronze. She was the first American to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon, making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history.

As a teen, she won the National Junior Pentathlon championships for consecutive years and received widespread honors in high school in various sports, including track, basketball and volleyball. During her junior year, she set the Illinois high school long jump record for women, with a 6.68-meter jump. Joyner-Kersee attended the University of California, Los Angeles on a full scholarship and continued to gain fame on both the court and field. In 1981, at the age of 19, she began to focus on training for the Olympics, specifically for the heptathlon — an Olympic track-and-field competition comprised of seven separate events, including the 200-meter run, 800-meter run and 100-meter hurdles. She graduated from UCLA in 1985.

Joyner-Kersee won a silver medal in the heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics, as well as gold and bronze medals in the long jump in 1988 and 1992, respectively, and is currently the heptathlon world record-holder.
Following her retirement from competition, she founded the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to instill youth in the a Greater East St. Louis area with the dream, drive and determination necessary to succeed in academics, athletics and leadership. “Winners In Life.”

Chuck Wallis, Vice President of the Bommarito Automotive Group, will serve as honorary starter and will wave the opening green flag.

Kimi Raikkonen confirmed at Ferrari for 2018 F1 season

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Scuderia Ferrari has confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will remain with the team for the 2018 Formula 1 season after being given a new one-year contract.

Raikkonen, 37, has raced with Ferrari since 2014, and has been on a one-year rolling contract since the end of 2015.

The Finn has been a regular focus for the F1 driver market’s ‘silly season’ given his age and struggle for form compared to teammate Sebastian Vettel, who currently leads the drivers’ championship.

Raikkonen has scored 86 less points than Vettel through the opening 11 races of the 2017 season, but has nevertheless done enough to secure a new contract, confirmed by Ferrari on Tuesday.

“Ferrari announces that Scuderia Ferrari has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen,” a brief statement from Ferrari reads.

“The Finnish driver will therefore race for the Maranello team in the 2018 Formula One World Championship.”

Raikkonen is the first of the big-name free agents to have his plans for 2018 confirmed, with Vettel, ex-Ferrari racer Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas yet to announce a drive for next year.

Raikkonen first joined Ferrari in 2007, winning the F1 drivers’ championship in his first season, but left at the end of 2009 to take some time out from the sport.

A return in 2012 with Lotus saw Raikkonen display plenty of his old spark, taking two wins for the financially-hamstrung team before leaving at the end of 2013 over a pay row.

Raikkonen moved back to Ferrari for 2014 alongside Fernando Alonso, with Vettel arriving the following year.

Questions over Raikkonen’s motivation and ability have been rife for some time, but without any outstanding candidates for a seat available as things stand, the news is not overly surprising.

Nevertheless, it does defuse some of the silliness of ‘silly season’, with Vettel’s confirmation at Ferrari seemingly set to follow.