Paddock Pass: Spanish Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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F1 on NBC Sports reporter Will Buxton’s been busy getting all the news from this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, and he has plenty to report in the latest edition of “Paddock Pass,” NBCSN’s Original Digital Series.

In addition to Buxton, you’ll also hear from:

  • Fernando Alonso of Ferrari on what it will take to get the Scuderia back on top starting in his home country of Spain.
  • Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull on his new RB10 chassis for Barcelona.
  • Kevin Magnussen of McLaren on his team’s recent troubles and the early lessons that he’s learned so far in his rookie run.
  • Valtteri Bottas of Williams on meeting pre-season expectations after scoring in every race so far this season.
  • Nico Hulkenberg of Force India on his team’s surprising early run to third in the Constructors’ Championship.
  • Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, winner of the last three Grand Prix, on how easy it can be to go the wrong direction on car setup with a complex F1 machine.
  • And former IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro on her recent Formula One test with Sauber.

You can check out the latest “Paddock Pass” in the video above.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”