Nico Rosberg has finished the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets, laying down a devastating pace that suggests Mercedes will go unchallenged for pole position later today.
Rosberg’s fastest time of 1:39.008 was two-tenths of a second quicker than teammate Lewis Hamilton’s best effort, but the Briton comfortably claimed second place as third-placed Kimi Raikkonen finished over 1.1 seconds off of the P1 time.
The final hour-long practice session on Saturday afternoon in Malaysia saw teams split their running between long stints on the hard tire and qualifying simulations. In both trims, Mercedes was dominant, so much so that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso could not even better Hamilton’s hard tire time on the quicker option compound. However, Ferrari finished as the closest team to Mercedes with Kimi Raikkonen finishing strongly once again in third place.
Red Bull bounced back from another fuel sensor failure on Daniel Ricciardo’s car on Friday to finish strongly as Sebastian Vettel continues to find his feet with the new car. The German driver finished in fourth place, just ahead of compatriot Nico Hulkenberg who impressed for Force India in fifth place.
McLaren endured a very difficult final session in Malaysia as both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were forced to park up and let the team work on their cars. This loss of running could hurt the team during qualifying, but a possible hardware problem on one or both of the cars could give the team a race against time to get them ready for the session on Saturday.
Also struggled was Lotus once again, with Romain Grosjean complaining that “the rear of the car is a disaster” over the radio.
With Mercedes looking so dominant once again in final practice, it is difficult to see any team stopping Hamilton and Rosberg from locking out the front row. Instead, it could come down to which of the Silver Arrows has that extra edge and can beat his teammate to claim pole at Sepang.
In the second edition of this week’s F1 on NBC Sports original digital series Paddock Pass, the Sahara Force India team reveals the VJM10 at the Silverstone Circuit in England, not far from the team’s headquarters.
Force India’s steady climb up the ladder has seen them rise to fourth place in the Constructor’s Championship, achieved last year.
NBCSN F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton checks in with drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, the latter of whom shifts to Force India after an impressive half season with Manor last year.
“It just looks amazing. It’s the first time I’ve been so excited looking at the car,” Perez told Buxton. “We have to adapt to a new driving style and see how physically demanding it is. It will be a big challenge for us.”
Otmar Szafnauer, COO of Sahara Force India, also offered his thoughts and expectations:
“The only way to hope to keep (the momentum) was to develop the 2017 car early. We don’t have the resources for parallel development,” Szafnauer told Buxton.
Stay tuned to the end of the video for a potential nugget about the testing lineup.
A link to Renault’s Paddock Pass from yesterday is here.
Further preseason content will come this week and into next on NBCSports.com.
Although Formula 1 testing doesn’t begin until Monday, several teams have filming days in advance at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona to gather preliminary material ahead of the new year.
The first up of those is Sauber F1 Team, which premiered its new C36 chassis on Monday and has now hit the Barcelona track for filming sessions. The Ferrari-powered car is the 25th in Sauber’s F1 history.
Marcus Ericsson took the initial shakedown with Pascal Wehrlein sidelined owing to his injuries sustained at the Race of Champions. Antonio Giovinazzi is set to fill in at the first test.
Sauber’s released a quick video of the test on its social channels and website, and is linked above.
Williams Martini Racing has confirmed who’s running when ahead of the two Barcelona tests, starting next week.
At the first test, Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll will alternate days, with Massa running days one and three and Stroll getting in for days two and four.
The second test will see the Canadian in the first two days before the Brazilian takes over the last two.
Stroll’s had testing in older Williams chassis, but this will mark his first running in the new FW40 chassis. Williams released renderings of the chassis last week.
Williams Martini Racing – Barcelona Test Schedule
February 27 – Felipe Massa
February 28 – Lance Stroll
March 1 – Felipe Massa
March 2 – Lance Stroll
March 7 – Lance Stroll
March 8 – Lance Stroll
March 9 – Felipe Massa
March 10 – Felipe Massa
The remaining assets from KV Racing Technology will be auctioned off on March 27 in a live and online auction put on by Key Auctioneers in Indianapolis.
Much of KV’s inventory has been sold to new Verizon IndyCar Series entrant Juncos Racing, which formally announced its arrival into the series on Tuesday. That includes three chassis, two full sets of pit equipment and one transporter, among other items per Trackside Online.
What’s left for KV of current equipment includes one of the Dallara DW12 chassis – it appears to be the chassis used by Stefan Wilson in last year’s Indianapolis 500 – dampers, drives, gears, lay shafts and more.
There’s also a bit of rolling stock, hospitality and other memorabilia available.
A full page of what’s available is linked here.
KV Racing was born out of the assets of the former PacWest Racing team (PWR Championship Racing in its final year of 2002), and launched as PK Racing in 2003.
Despite going through myriad name changes in the 14 years since, KV was still a fun part of the IndyCar fabric and thanks to Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser, a staple in the paddock. They never fully evolved into a championship-contending team but were an Indianapolis 500-winning entry.
With their demise, it left Dale Coyne Racing as the last of the Champ Car racing teams that switched over to IndyCar in 2008 still standing. But Juncos’ arrival as the ninth team gives new life to a new breed of team owners coming into the series and hopefully opens the door for more from here.
In the meantime, if you’re in Indianapolis and have the means or desire to get a piece of the KV history, March 27 represents that chance.