Kanaan, Tilke, Ryan Blaney celebrating December 31 birthdays

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December 31: last day of the 2013 calendar year and home to a couple birthdays of note.

First, a happy 39th to Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, who earned an early birthday present in October when he signed with Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2014 IndyCar season. That became the No. 10 Target seat earlier this month, when CGR confirmed Ryan Briscoe as the team’s fourth driver to replace the retired Dario Franchitti.

Next up, we’ll wish a happy 59th to Hermann Tilke, the architect of most new Formula One circuits. Tilke’s tracks ignite opinion either way but they do have some dramatic points.

Lastly, happy 20th to NASCAR up-and-comer Ryan Blaney, who won his first Nationwide Series race earlier this year at Kentucky. A Penske Racing prodigy, Blaney should be in Cup within a couple years at the latest.

Verstappen picks illegal Raikkonen pass as favorite F1 2017 overtake

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Max Verstappen has picked his illegal pass on Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix as his favorite overtake of the Formula 1 season.

Verstappen was one of F1’s most prolific passers through 2017, making 22 overtaking moves as per Pirelli’s end of year data.

When asked to pick out his favorite in a post-season interview on his official website, Verstappen picked his bold move on Raikkonen at the Circuit of The Americas that sparked controversy when he was penalized for completing the overtake off-track.

The Red Bull driver had charged from 16th on the grid to cross the line third, only for a five-second time penalty to deny him a podium and drop him to fourth in a snap call made before the post-race ceremony.

“Of course, at first your initial reaction is something like: ‘Why? It was a great move.’ But when you look at the rules, it was not correct,” Verstappen said.

“Nothing was by the book that whole weekend. Drivers were getting off track without being penalized for it. But you always need to focus on the positives: it was still a nice race and everyone enjoyed the excitement all the way down to the final lap.

“It’s always nice to be on the podium, but to finish fourth after having started sixteenth, is still a great result.

“It wasn’t as painful as most people thought it was. In the end I made my peace with it.”

Asked if it was his best move of the year, Verstappen said: “Yes, because this year I actually didn’t have that many overtakes.

“With this car you are actually only able to overtake on the straights, which is really not that satisfying compared to last year.”