WEC wraps 2013 season in Bahrain, crowns champions

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The FIA World Endurance Championship concluded its second full season this weekend in Bahrain, with some of the championships available decided.

The race first: Toyota dominated and was able to get its second overall win of the year, albeit this was the first under normal circumstances. An absolute deluge of rain at the scheduled Fuji race in October meant the race’s 16 total laps were run almost entirely behind the safety car, and only half points were awarded. Qualifying there made the entire difference as to who was classified as race winners.

Alas, on this Saturday in Bahrain, the No. 8 TS030 Hybrid (shown at Le Mans) took its first win of the year with drivers Anthony Davidson, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Buemi. Retirements by both the sister Toyota, the No. 2 Audi of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval and the Rebellion Racing Lola Toyota promoted an LMP2 class car to the overall podium in the form of that class’ winners, G-Drive Racing. The No. 26 Oreca 03 Nissan scored its fourth win in the last five races with drivers Mike Conway, John Martin and Roman Rusinov.

AF Corse took the GTE Pro class win with Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in the No. 51 Ferrari F458 Italia, and Aston Martin Racing capped off a challenging year for its Danish No. 95 Vantage with a GTE Am class win for the trio of countrymen Christoffer Nygaard, Kristian Poulsen and Nicki Thiim.

Although they retired, the Kristensen/McNish/Duval trio had banked enough points throughout the rest of the eight-race season to win the World Driver’s Championship overall. After racing alongside fellow ex-Formula One shoe Giancarlo Fisichella the other seven races, Bruni was split from his Italian countryman for Bahrain in an effort to ensure one of them won the World Cup for GT Drivers. Bruni took home that honor while a retirement for the No. 97 Aston Martin pairing of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke cost them a shot.

The trio of Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez secured the Trophy for LMP2 Drivers for OAK Racing after a solid, consistent season in their No. 35 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan that included the class win at Le Mans. Lastly Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall wrapped up the Trophy for GTE Am Drivers in their No. 96 Aston Martin.

Audi (LMP) and Ferrari (GTE) took home the Manufacturer World Championships, while OAK No. 35 (LMP2), AF Corse No. 51 (GTE Pro) and 8Star Motorsports No. 81 (GTE Am) won FIA Endurance Trophies for teams.

And to answer your next question, no, not everyone who competed in the WEC this year took home a trophy. But there were many pieces of hardware to dole out.

Sainz uninjured, but to remain in hospital overnight

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Carlos Sainz Jr. will remain in hospital overnight following a terrifying crash during practice for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday morning.

Sainz slammed into the wall at turn 13 after losing control of his car, pitching in underneath the TecPro barrier at the end of the run-off area.

Medical crews spent 20 minutes extricating Sainz from his car due to the barriers’ placement before he was taken away to hospital for a check-up.

Sainz tweeted a picture to his followers confirming that he was okay, and Toro Rosso has now released a second statement confirming that the Spaniard was fully conscious throughout the crash and is uninjured.

“After arriving at the Sochi Hospital 4, Carlos Sainz, who never lost consciousness, underwent a medical examination, including a full body scan,” the statement reads. “The scan showed that the driver has no injuries.

“However, he will be staying in the hospital overnight as a precautionary measure, which is the normal procedure in these circumstances.

“We will release further information when it is available.”

Sainz tweeted that he was hoping to convince the doctors to release him from hospital early enough so that he could take part in tomorrow’s race, but any steps taken will be with his well-being in mind.

Rosberg charges to Russian GP pole in Sochi

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Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix from pole position after topping the timesheets in Saturday’s qualifying session at the Sochi Autodrom.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.113 to edge out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by three-tenths of a second to score pole position in Russia.

Following on from its dominant display in Japan two weeks ago, Mercedes showed few signs of easing up at the front of the field as it stormed to another front-row lock-out.

Having traded fastest lap times throughout the earlier stages of qualifying, Hamilton and Rosberg renewed their battle in Q3 at Sochi, but it was Rosberg who finished on top.

Rosberg drew early blood in Q3 by going three-tenths faster than his teammate on his first run, and when Hamilton locked up late on and opted to pit, pole was safely with the German driver.

Valtteri Bottas finished as the best of the rest in third place, beating the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen who finished fifth and sixth respectively as all of the drivers struggled to improve on their second runs.

Nico Hulkenberg and Force India teammate Sergio Perez will start sixth and seventh, while Romain Grosjean qualified eighth. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten in P9 and P10 respectively.

Home favorite Daniil Kvyat was unable to delight the local fans as he would have liked to in qualifying, dropping out in Q2 by finishing 11th ahead of Felipe Nasr. Pastor Maldonado was also eliminated, finishing 14th, but it was Felipe Massa who was the biggest casualty of the second session, ending up 15th for Williams.

McLaren experienced something of a mixed qualifying session on Saturday as Fernando Alonso was knocked out at the end of Q1. Teammate Jenson Button managed to improve late on to dump the Spaniard out and leave him 16th overall, while the Briton went on to finish 13th in Q2.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson also dropped out at the first hurdle alongside the two Manor drivers, while Carlos Sainz Jr. took no part in the session following his practice crash. The Spaniard still hopes to take part in tomorrow’s race, but will remain in hospital overnight.