F1 flashback: Ferrari’s pair’s initial breakouts, Malaysia 2003

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Before they were Ferrari teammates and now part of Formula One’s “old guard” in 2014, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were 21 and 23-year-old “new kids on the block” in the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Alonso was in only his second Grand Prix for Renault, after his rookie season at Minardi in 2001 and then sitting out a season to work as Renault’s test driver. But he put together a blinding lap to score his first career pole on Saturday.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, was in his second season at McLaren-Mercedes, and though he’d shown flashes of brilliance he’d not yet been able to secure a victory.

Raikkonen emerged ahead of Alonso after the first pit stop sequence and Rubens Barrichello, then-Ferrari number two, got ahead at the second sequence.

When all was said and done Raikkonen had captured his first career victory, with Alonso also standing on the podium for the first time.

These two and Jenson Button are the only three drivers from that Grand Prix still on the grid in 2014.

The race also marked a first for NBC Sports Group’s F1 lead announcer Leigh Diffey, as it was his first Grand Prix he commentated on in the U.S., substituting for Rick DeBruhl on the old SPEED Channel.

Diffey, who missed calling the 2013 Malaysian GP as it conflicted with the IndyCar season opener in St. Petersburg, will be back on the mic for this year’s race. Coverage times on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will be confirmed later this week.

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”