Marcus Ericsson to start Monaco GP from pit lane

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Caterham driver Marcus Ericsson will start tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix from the pit lane as punishment for crashing into Felipe Massa during qualifying today.

Massa moved off line at Mirabeau in order to let the Caterham driver through, as he was on a hot lap. However, Ericsson ran very wide and crashed into Massa, bringing out yellow flags and effectively ending the session.

The incident also meant that Massa could not take part in Q2 despite getting through, and the Brazilian driver will start the race from 16th place tomorrow. However, Ericsson was happy to accept complete blame for the collision.

“On my final push lap I was behind Massa going into turn five and he moved off-line a bit which meant I had to change my braking point,” the Swede explained. “I locked up and went into the barrier with him which was my mistake. It’s unfortunate it took him out too but it looks like the car is ok so now I want to put today behind me and concentrate on the race.”

The FIA also handed Ericsson two penalty points that will remain on his superlicense for 12 months.

Massa was less impressed by the incident, saying: “I did everything I could in the first session but at the end Ericsson hit me and that ruined my qualifying. I was hopeful for a good position today as the car actually felt ok.

“It would have been a fight to get into the top ten, not easy, but possible. I am disappointed and tomorrow is going to be a challenge but with this car points are still possible.”

Massa will start three places behind his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who qualified 13th today.

Ericsson’s penalty is a strange one considering he qualified last anyway. In fact, it could be beneficial for him if there is an incident at the first corner, as he would avoid this thanks to the pit exit at Monaco which bypasses Sainte Devote.

The Swede is running with a replica of compatriot Ronnie Peterson’s helmet in honor of his victory at Monaco 40 years ago.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.