F1 Testing in Bahrain - Day Two

Magnussen leads Day 2 in Bahrain; Renault teams make strides

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A Mercedes-powered car led the way again in the second day of Formula One testing in Bahrain, and some of the teams that had issues on Wednesday got them, in part, sorted on Thursday.

Kevin Magnussen’s run of form this winter continued; the young Dane dropped the bar on times by a full two seconds compared to Wednesday’s best. Another run on Pirelli’s soft tires saw Magnussen’s McLaren MP4-29 down to 1:34.910.

Nico Hulkenberg, Wednesday’s pace-setter, improved his time by a few tenths in the Force India-Mercedes to 1:36.445, while Fernando Alonso found more than a second in his Ferrari at 1:36.516.

Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Williams fixed some of their issues on Thursday. Despite playing catch-up, Red Bull got by far its best day of the winter in on Thursday with Sebastian Vettel completing 59 laps. The sister Toro Rosso team, with Jean-Eric Vergne in for the first time this week, got 58 in.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas though was the lap-pounder of the day, with the team’s fuel system gremlins of Wednesday sent to the rear view mirror. The young Finn clocked in a day-high 116 laps and was within 2.4 seconds of the leading Mercedes-powered runners.

As has been the case in other tests, Mercedes teams still led the combined total lap chart, but all three manufacturers picked up on where they were on Wednesday (Mercedes 238, Ferrari 146, Renault 95). Here’s Thursday’s breakdown:

  • Mercedes: 306 (Magnussen 46, Hulkenberg 59, Nico Rosberg 85, Bottas 116)
  • Renault: 201 (Kamui Kobayashi 66, Vettel 59, Vergne 58, Romain Grosjean 18)
  • Ferrari: 169 (Alonso 97, Esteban Gutierrez 55, Max Chilton 17)

Renault had by far it’s most running overall, even despite installation issues preventing Lotus’ Romain Grosjean from doing much of anything. Pace runs will come later for the French manufacturer.

And here’s Thursday’s times:

1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m34.910s, 46 Laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes, 1m36.445s, 59
3. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1m36.516s, 97
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1m36.965s, 85
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Mercedes, 1m37.328s, 116
6. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham-Renault, 1m39.855s, 66
7. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1m40.340s, 59
8. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Renault, 1m40.609s, 58
9. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber-Ferrari, 1m40.717s, 55
10. Romain Grosjean, Lotus-Renault, 1m41.670s, 18
11. Max Chilton, Marussia-Ferrari, 1m42.511s, 17

VIDEO: Mahindra completes Formula E show run at Buddh circuit

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Less than 24 hours after scoring a double-points finish in the Buenos Aires ePrix, the Mahindra Formula E team was en route to India for a show run at the Buddh International Circuit.

The track hosted the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix between 2011 and 2013 before dropping off the calendar, but remains a hub for motorsport in the country.

Mahindra is the only Indian team racing in Formula E and also has a Moto3 team, offering a unique opportunity to put a car up against a bike on-track.

Nick Heidfeld also took the opportunity to complete some donuts in the Formula E car on the main straight, much like Sebastian Vettel did after winning his fourth F1 championship back in 2013.

As Formula E’s global expansion looks set to continue in its third season, might an Indian race be on the cards in the near future?

“What we are trying to do with the demo run, and what Anand Mahindra and Pawan Goenka said, is that we intend to bring a race to India,” Mahindra team boss Dilbagh Gill said.

“We want to bring it as quickly as we can. We are talking with the right people. As long as we’ve got the minds behind it, the infrastructure shouldn’t be a problem.

“The promoters know how to host a race, they know how to bring the infrastructure whether in Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore, we won’t have a problem in hosting a race.”

Sebastien Ogier continues perfect start to WRC season in Sweden

KARLSTAD, SWEDEN - FEBRUARY 13:  Sebastien Ogier of France and Julien Ingrassia of France compete in their Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen Polo R WRC during Day Two of the WRC Sweden on February 13, 2016 in Karlstad, Sweden.  (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)
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Three-time FIA World Rally Championship winner Sebastien Ogier continued his perfect start to the 2016 season by claiming maximum points at this weekend’s Rally Sweden.

The event in Karlstad looked poised to be cancelled earlier in the week after a lack of snowfall in the area reduced many parts of the rally into a gravel course.

A revised 12-stage rally was brokered to ensure that the event still went ahead, with Ogier leading from start to finish across the three days of running.

The Frenchman came under pressure from Hayden Paddon on Saturday, who cut the deficit at the front down to just 8.8 seconds in his first run in the Hyundai i20.

However, Ogier managed to keep his cool and open up the gap once again before eventually completing the rally with an advantage of almost half a minute.

The result continued Ogier’s perfect start to the season following his victory in Monaco last month, giving him 56/56 possible points at the top of the championship standings.

“Two wins from the first two rallies – it can’t get any better,” Ogier said. “Yesterday was a little bit too crazy and I took risks like I had never done in my life. Conditions were terrible at the beginning of the week but the organisers did an impressive job so that we had a good rally.”

Paddon retained second place until the finish to match his best ever WRC result and become the first non-European to stand on the podium in Sweden. Mads Østberg finished the rally in third place for M-Sport Ford ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Ott Tanak.

Following the conclusion of the rally, event organizers in Karlstad announced that they had agreed a new three-year hosting deal for Rally Sweden, safeguarding its future until the end of 2019.

“The negotiations have been going on for almost six months and today Rally Sweden can confirm that a new three year contract with WRC Promoter has been signed,” a statement read.

“One week ago we were more dead than alive and couldn’t see any future for the event. Now, once again, we have managed to put on an amazing event and it is an amazing feeling to be able to confirm that we have agreed on a new three year contract.

“We have an absolutely amazing organization that proves that we can pull through the hardest of times.”

McLaren releases audio of first MP4-31 fire-up

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 01:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez  on November 1, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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As the countdown to the beginning of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Barcelona continues, McLaren has followed Ferrari’s lead by releasing an audio snippet of its 2016 car being fired up for the first time.

McLaren enters the new year hoping to bounce back from a miserable 2015 campaign that was marred by struggles with its Honda power unit, limiting drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to just 27 points across the course of the season.

The crew at Woking has been working tirelessly over the winter to get the new car, the MP4-31, ready for the new season, and everything now appears set for the first pre-season test in Barcelona.

On Sunday, McLaren released a short audio snippet of the car being fired up at its base ahead of its official unveil on February 21.

Pre-season testing begins at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 22, with the eighth and final day of running taking place on March 4.

NHRA: Parachute fails on Gary Densham’s career-best Funny Car run (video)

Densham crash
(Photo courtesy NHRA's official Twitter account)
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Veteran NHRA Funny Car driver Gary Densham has been hurtling down drag strips for more than 30 years.

Saturday, the 69-year-old Densham had the best day of his career — and one of the worst, at the same time.

The Southern California native was making a qualifying run during the season-opening Circle K Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

The good news for Densham: he ran a career-best 4.050 seconds in his Dodge Charger, qualifying 11th in the 16-car field for Sunday’s eliminations.

The bad news: the parachutes on his Funny Car failed to deploy and Densham ran head-on into a catchfence at the end of Auto Club Raceway’s short runoff area. While Densham’s car was destroyed, he walked away uninjured.

And that’s the best news of all.

Check out the video and then some tweets about the incident and the day, including visits by former IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti and Tommy Lee of rock group Motley Crue:

Follow @JerryBonkowski