Mideast Bahrain F1

Nico Rosberg tops Day 1 of Bahrain in-season test

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Three days after his near-miss in the Bahrain Grand Prix, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg led the way Tuesday as the first of four Formula One in-season tests got underway at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Rosberg, who won the season opener last month in Australia, not only set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 35.697 seconds, but also turned the most laps on the 3.36-mile course with 121 circuits.

“Our main aim today was to try different directions with set-up and to get to know the tyres a bit better,” Rosberg said in a release.

“You never stop learning how to get the best out of the tires, so it has been a productive day from that perspective. We also did a bit of work on the brakes as this is an area I’m not one hundred percent happy with at the moment.”

“We’ve had a good few weeks on track but you are never at the maximum level of performance. There is always more to be found and we are constantly pushing to improve the car and ourselves as drivers.

“Having said that, the team is doing a fantastic job with this car from every perspective. Reliability, car performance, power unit performance: It’s all there and it’s a pleasure to be a part of a team with such positive momentum.”

Considering that Force India was ‘best of the rest’ in last weekend’s Grand Prix with Sergio Perez hitting the podium, it was fitting that the Silverstone squad tailed Merc again today with Nico Hulkenberg setting a P2 time of 1 minute, 36.064 seconds.

Hulkenberg logged 69 laps as the team’s focus progressed from short runs in the morning to longer stints in the afternoon. Perez will take over the VJM07 tomorrow in the desert.

Third on the time sheets belonged to Fernando Alonso of Ferrari (1 minute, 36.626 seconds), which struggled mightily last weekend with Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen coming home ninth and 10th.

The Spaniard also logged his own set of 69 laps as the Scuderia worked through various electronic and aero-measuring projects on their F14 T, whose reliability has been undone so far by a markedly slower pace compared to its rivals.

McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen was the only other driver to break the 100-lap mark Tuesday, turning 102 laps and posting the fourth-fastest time of the day at 1 minute, 36.634 seconds.

Behind K-Mags was Williams pilot Valtteri Bottas, who was P5 on the day (1 minute, 37.305 seconds) despite running just 28 laps.

“Overall it was a good day as we managed to complete the program as planned,” Bottas said. “We then worked on set-up and we were quite experimental, so hopefully that will help in the next few races.”

Several other young guns also got in a good share of laps today in Bahrain. Russia’s Sergey Sirotkin logged 76 laps for Sauber, while Caterham’s Robin Frijns netted 63 before a hydraulic system leak ended his day early.

The toughest outing of the day belonged to Lotus and Pastor Maldonado, who could only grab 16 laps on the track before a pair of power unit-related issues stopped his progress.

“This is what testing is for, even though we would have preferred to have been able to complete more laps today,” said Maldonado. “I hope that Romain [Grosjean] can continue to work on our testing program tomorrow and hopefully have a more positive day.”

FORMULA ONE IN-SEASON TESTING – BAHRAIN, DAY 1
Unofficial Times
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes – 1 minute, 35.697 seconds, 121 laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India – 1 minute, 36.064 seconds, 69 laps
3. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari – 1 minute, 36.626s, 69 laps
4. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren – 1 minute, 36.634 seconds, 102 laps
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams – 1 minute, 37.305 seconds, 28 laps
6. Max Chilton, Marussia – 1 minute, 37.678 seconds, 60 laps
7. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – 1 minute, 38.326 seconds, 91 laps
8. Sergey Sirotkin, Sauber – 1 minute, 39.023 seconds, 76 laps
9. Robin Frijns, Caterham – 1 minute, 40.027 seconds, 63 laps
10. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus – 1 minute, 40.183 seconds, 16 laps
11. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso – 1 minute, 40.452 seconds, 67 laps

Sebastien Buemi: Renault e.dams’ Formula E advantage is clear

2016/2017 FIA Formula E Championship.
Buenos Aires ePrix, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Saturday 18 February 2017.

Photo: Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E
ref: Digital Image _SLA8482
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Sebastien Buemi says that Renault e.dams’ current advantage over the Formula E field is clear for all to see after taking his third straight victory on Saturday in Buenos Aires.

Buemi followed his victories in Hong Kong and Marrakesh with a dominant display at the Puerto Madero street course in Argentina, taking the lead on lap six and never looking likely to lose the race from there.

The Swiss driver now stands 29 points clear at the top of the Formula E drivers’ championship after just three races, and is already the strong favorite to take a second crown in 2017.

“I think it’s clear that we have right now the best car, the best package. That obviously helps but it’s not everything,” Buemi said.

“You need to be doing good races, a good car and be a good team. I think as a package we’ve come out a bit better than the rest.

“We know that’s not going to last forever. If we can get as many points as possible as long as it lasts, that would be good.”

Buemi’s victory may have seemed straightforward, but the ex-Formula 1 driver revealed that the second stint of the race saw a number of problems arise that kept him on his toes.

“Today with the heat, there were many other things we had to manage, particularly the temperature of the battery,” Buemi said.

“We had some small issues on the brakes. It was quite difficult to actually drive the car.

“The car was not braking straight.”

To have finally won in Buenos Aires was also an important landmark for Buemi, having come close twice before.

“I’m quite happy because the first race here two years ago, I had pole and I did a mistake and ended up in the wall,” Buemi said.

“The second year I started last and finished second. In the end to get a win here is a great achievement. This race has never really gone our way but today it did.

“We’ll try to enjoy that a little bit and then look to Mexico.”

Sebastien Buemi dominates in Buenos Aires for third straight Formula E win

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Sebastien Buemi continued his winning streak in Formula E by dominating Saturday’s Buenos Aires ePrix for Renault e.dams.

Buemi started his Formula E title defence in impressive fashion by claiming victory in the first two races of the season in Hong Kong and Marrakesh, and became the series’ first three-peat victor after an emphatic display in Argentina.

Buemi started the race third, and was forced to hold position off the line despite making a rocket start as pole-sitter Lucas di Grassi and second-placed Jean-Eric Vergne defended well.

Di Grassi was powerless to stop Vergne from passing for the lead on lap three, with Buemi following through on the very same tour of the track, leaving the two Renault-powered racers at the front.

Vergne may have been using the same powertrain as Buemi, but he was unable to keep the Swiss driver back as he slipped into the lead on lap six.

From there, Buemi never looked back. A succession of fastest laps gave him some breathing room to Vergne behind, ensuring he got to the car swaps with a buffer of five seconds.

Buemi was careful to manage his energy through the second half of the race, allowing Vergne to cut his lead to around two seconds, but was never in danger of losing the win.

The result gives Buemi a championship lead of 29 points over di Grassi, who fought his way back to third after losing a number of places through the first stint.

Besides Buemi and Vergne, Oliver Turvey and Nicolas Prost were also able to pass the Brazilian, leaving him in danger of missing a podium finish.

Di Grassi looked more comfortable through the second half of the race after changing cars, allowing him to pass Prost on-track having already disposed of Turvey during the pit stops. However, the stewards are set to investigate him after a possible unsafe release, putting his third-place finish at risk.

Vergne was left to settle for second, scoring his fifth podium finish in Formula E. The result also marked Techeetah’s first top-three finish since the rebrand of Team Aguri at the end of last year.

Prost ended the race fourth ahead of season one champion Nelson Piquet Jr., who with fifth scored his best result since the first London race in 2015.

Loic Duval took sixth for Dragon Racing after a spirited battle with teammate Jerome d’Ambrosio in the closing stages, the pair going wheel-to-wheel. Daniel Abt went on a late charge to split the duo in the end, taking seventh for the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport team.

Oliver Tuvey lost positions late on after pitting one lap earlier than his rivals and being short on energy, while Jose Maria Lopez went on a charge from P20 to P10 to delight his home fans and take a point for DS Virgin Racing.

Lewis Hamilton calls for city F1 races, more U.S. grands prix

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 21: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 21, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton believes the sport needs more races in city centres and additional events in the United States.

The future of F1’s calendar is currently a hot topic following Liberty Media’s takeover of the sport, with a possible change in approach to finding host cities being expected.

Liberty is expected to focus on strengthening F1’s identity in key markets such as the United States, as well as going to new continents and countries.

Speaking in a Facebook Live video, Hamilton said that many of the events near cities in F1 at the moment are too far out for people to easily get to.

“I’m not necessarily a big fan of some of the new tracks we have. Some of them are so far outside of a city, people have to commute so far,” Hamilton said.

“When we go to China for example, such a great city, so many people, it’s such a big commute to get there.

“It’s a great track, I don’t know why they’ve built it so far away. So less people can get access, to go there and stay.”

Hamilton believes that circuits made on the city streets are the future for F1, saying that he would like to see an event in New York as part of an expansion in the United States.

“I think the future is city circuits, that’s my belief. I hope they introduce more city circuits,” Hamilton said.

“New York would be amazing. The States is such a big part of the world and we only have one grand prix there. I think we need to have more.

“There’s these single races in these countries, so fans have to wait a whole year to have that experience again.”

F1 currently has just one race in the United States, being held in October at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

Lopez to prioritize ‘dream’ Toyota LMP1 commitments over Formula E

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 6:  In this handout image supplied by Formula E, Jose Maria Lopez (WTCC Champion - Citreon) during the Buenos Aires Formula E race at Puerto Madero Street Circuit on February 6, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E via Getty Images)
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Jose Maria Lopez is set to miss July’s Formula E double header in New York after prioritizing his new role with Toyota in the FIA World Endurance Championship over other commitments.

Lopez won three straight WTCC titles between 2014 and 2016 with Citroen before moving into Formula E with the French manufacturer’s sub-brand DS and the Virgin Racing team.

Toyota confirmed at the beginning of February that Lopez would be joining its full-season WEC line-up for 2017, replacing Stephane Sarrazin in the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid for 2017.

Lopez spoke warmly of the opportunity with Toyota, saying that he wants to learn as much as possible during his maiden WEC season, and confirmed that it will be put before all other duties in 2017.

As a result, Lopez is poised to miss the two Formula E races in New York on July 16 while he is at the Nürburgring for the WEC six hour race.

“The only race we’re going to have some problems where there is going to be a clash for the moment if they don’t find a solution is New York and Nürburgring,” Lopez told NBC Sports.

“My priority is Toyota LMP1 this year. I’m going to be racing for sure in the Nürburgring if there is a clash.

“It’s been a dream for me to become an LMP1 driver and race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans especially and the WEC. I’m really looking forward to the first race and first testing.

“My idea is to learn as much as I can and get on a good level with my teammates and get a good season.”