Renault and Lotus extension confirmed; Pic named reserve

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It seems strange to say in modern Formula One that a team has shown up at a test without an official extension in place – gone are the days when a Minardi or someone of that ilk didn’t have an engine or tire deal done for that season – but until Thursday morning that was the case for the Lotus F1 Team.

Its engine partnership with Renault was expected, and a Renault block was in the car, but neither team nor engine manufacturer had issued a release confirming the official continuation of the partnership.

Until this morning, when they did, for what was deemed “2014 and beyond.”

A release from Renault this morning said in part:

Renault will supply the team with its Energy F1-2014 Power Unit for the coming season. … The extension continues the long and successful history of collaboration that first started in 1995 when Renault supplied its legendary V10 to Benetton, as the team was then known. … Renault’s decision to re-centre F1 activities around engine supply led to a majority shareholding being sold to Genii Capital in 2009 before the Luxembourg-based group purchased 100% control at the end of 2010. Renault has since remained involved as the team’s engine partner, aiding the team to re-emerge as a front running team in recent seasons.

While the official Renault release didn’t mention the length of the contract, the BBC reported the contract runs through 2018.

Taken at face value, that could mean a couple of things. It could mean Renault isn’t nearly as concerned about the Lotus cash flow for as bad as it seemed at times in 2013. Second, it guarantees the continued relationship of the two partners as this new engine formula for several years, without the risk of needing to change throughout the development process.

Lotus’ second day in Bahrain saw an improved number of laps – 18 by Romain Grosjean – but not enough to get past some installation issues. Pastor Maldonado takes over on Friday.

On another separate note, the team has confirmed Charles Pic, ex-Marussia and Caterham driver, as third driver for 2014. Pic will travel to races and conduct simulator work at the team’s Enstone factory.

“I am very excited to join a top team and Lotus F1 Team have certainly shown that they are a top team in this sport,” said Pic, via F1’s official website.

Other drivers in the Lotus test and reserve pipeline include Dane Marco Sorenson and Pic’s countryman, fellow Frenchman Nicolas Prost.

Recapping the proper Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel rivalry (VIDEO)

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Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel are the two most decorated drivers currently on the Formula 1 grid, with seven World Championships between them (four for Vettel, and three for Hamilton).

However, their paths have rarely crossed on the track, and only in 2010 did both drivers battle each for a World Championship in the same year. They also battled Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber that year, with Vettel emerging on top to claim his first World Championship.

However, the 2017 season sees Hamilton and Vettel in the two best cars on the grid, and they have gone head-to-head multiple times already this year, with each claiming two victories through the first five races. Currently, Vettel leads Hamilton 104-98 in the world championship, and the two men are developing a strong on-track rivalry.

Monaco Grand Prix coverage continues with FP3 and qualifying on Saturday. Full times are linked here.

 

Take a look behind the scenes of Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 qualifying runs (VIDEO)

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In Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, we take you behind the scenes during F1 superstar Fernando Alonso’s qualifying runs for the Indy 500, including when he was on the pole for a brief period. He’ll eventually start fifth. 

Simulator ride tells what Fernando Alonso can expect in Indianapolis 500 (VIDEO)

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On Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, Parker Kligerman and his backseat driver, Kyle Petty, took to the iRacing simulator to make a mock run around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

They look at the challenges of IMS, as well as the challenges two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will face in the first oval track race in his illustrious career. Alonso is among the favorites in the race and will take the green flag from the middle of Row 2 (fifth position).

Check out the above video.  

Legendary announcer Ken Squier gets you ready for Sunday’s big day of racing (VIDEO)

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Sunday is the biggest day of the year in motorsports, starting in the morning with Formula 1’s legendary Monaco Grand Prix.

Then, at Noon ET, it’s the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The final part of the tripleheader of racing is NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the 400-lap, 600-mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Newly-named NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Ken Squier gives you a great primer for what promises to be a memorable day around the world (see video above).