Austria F1 GP Auto Racing

Mercedes taking nothing for granted ahead of the British GP

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Mercedes may have dominated the 2014 F1 season so far, but some scares in the last two races have taught the team not to take anything for granted despite its sizeable advantage.

In Canada, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were hit with an ERS failure that caused their pace to drop considerably. Hamilton was forced to retire from the race because of the problem, and although Rosberg managed the issue and came home in second place, it did mark the team’s first loss in 2014 as Daniel Ricciardo claimed his maiden grand prix victory.

Although the team bounced back in Austria with its sixth one-two finish of the season, both drivers were once again hit with a brake issue that left Rosberg relieved to see the checkered flag and claim the race win.

“We were delighted to get another top result in Austria,” team boss Toto Wolff explained. “Our weekend in Spielberg was one of the toughest so far this season, with a qualifying performance which did not match our expectations. To bounce back with another one-two finish was highly satisfying – particularly as our rivals pushed us harder than ever throughout the race.

“This demonstrates once again how crucial it is to remain 100% focused on the task at hand. We can afford no mistakes if we are to achieve our goals, as there will always be someone waiting to punish those mistakes.”

The British Grand Prix takes place just a few miles from Mercedes’ factories, making it a ‘home race’ for those working at the team.

“We now head to Silverstone, one of the highlights of the year for the team,” Wolff said. “For the hundreds of people at Brackley and Brixworth it provides an opportunity to see the results of hard work in action on the track. Our drivers are both particularly strong at this circuit and we can expect another tightly contested battle between the two of them.

“Equally, many of our rivals see this as their home race and will be highly motivated to gain an advantage. There are certain teams in particular who have a record of success here, so we are taking nothing for granted. It is up to us to ensure that our motivation is the highest of all as we look to put on a show for the incredible Silverstone crowds.”

Both Rosberg and Hamilton will be chasing their second British Grand Prix victory next weekend, setting the stage for another fascinating battle between the Silver Arrows at the front of the field.

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

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Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.