An uncharacteristically slow pit stop from Red Bull very nearly put paid to the team’s hopes of securing a one-two finish to round out the season as well as threatening Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of securing a record-equalling ninth consecutive victory.
After a run-in between Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull expected the safety car to be deployed and opted to pit both of its drivers on lap 47 of the race. However, when Vettel arrived in the pits, his tires had not yet been brought out, meaning that he had to wait for a few more seconds than normal in order for his team to get them out and put them on the car.
With Webber in second place, he also lost time whilst queuing behind Vettel in the pits whilst Fernando Alonso made big gains to find himself on Webber’s tail in the battle for second place.
However, both Vettel and Webber managed to pull away and secure Red Bull one final one-two finish to round off the season, giving Vettel his ninth straight win and Webber a podium finish in his final grand prix.
SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.
SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.
Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.
The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.
SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.
Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.