Bottas, Gutierrez set for five place grid drop after gearbox change

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Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez have both been forced into making a gearbox change ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. As a result, they will drop five places on the grid from their position in qualifying later today.

Under the technical regulations for 2014, gearboxes must last six consecutive race weekends, although usage remains free and flexible on Fridays. As per the last few years, any driver that requires a new gearbox unit is susceptible to a five place grid penalty.

Williams’ successful weekend in Australia hit a bump in the road as Bottas could only complete two laps in the final practice session on Saturday afternoon. The Finn was unable to post a lap time, and the team later confirmed on Twitter that a new gearbox was required on the #77 car, warranting a five place grid drop.

Gutierrez’s gearbox problem also came during the final practice session. After ten minutes in FP3, the Mexican’s Sauber C33 began to slow out on track. Although he did manage to get the car back to the pits, Gutierrez was unable to come out again. With a fresh gearbox though, he will be able to take part in qualifying, albeit knowing that he will drop five places from his final qualifying position.

In order to complete more work on their cars, both Marussia and Lotus broke their curfews overnight. However, they are permitted to do so on occasion throughout the season, meaning that there will be no penalty.

In a couple of minor changes, Q1 has been shortened by two minutes, whilst Q3 has been extended by two minutes. Drivers will no longer start on the tire that they set their fastest time in Q3 on, but instead the compound which they use in Q2. Those making it through to Q3 will also receive an extra set of option tires, encouraging multiple runs in the final session.

Qualifying begins at 2am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra.

BMW confirms IMSA, WEC GTE line-ups for 2018

BMW Motorsport
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BMW has confirmed its driver line-ups for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship campaigns.

In an announcement made at its end-of-year Sports Trophy event on Friday night, BMW firmed up its roster across its factory WEC team and its customer RLL Racing IMSA squad.

Two of the 2018 BMW M8 GTEs will enter the WEC next year, joining a hotly-contested GTE-Pro class that already features Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Ford.

BMW factory drivers Antonio Felix da Costa, Nick Catsburg, Augusto Farfus and Martin Tomczyk will share the two cars across the 13-month ‘super season’.

The quartet will be joined by Tom Blomqvist, Alexander Sims and Philipp Eng for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

In IMSA, the RLL Racing team will once again field Sims and John Edwards, who will be joined by the incoming Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn.

BMW also confirmed on Friday night that Tom Blomqvist would see out the Formula E season with its Andretti-affiliated team, having been benched for Kamui Kobayashi in Hong Kong.