Britain F1 GP Auto Racing

British GP Paddock Notebook – Saturday

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We couldn’t really go to England without it raining, could we? Intermittent showers played a big part during the F1 running today at Silverstone, with qualifying being one of the most interesting of the season as a result.

It did little to change the final result though. Once again, it was advantage Mercedes as Nico Rosberg secured his fourth pole position of the season. The German driver bided his time in Q3 and made the most of the drying track to secure P1 by over 1.6 seconds.

It wasn’t all good news for the Silver Arrows as a mistake by Lewis Hamilton left him down in sixth, and the Briton faces an uphill struggle to cut the gap to Rosberg in the championship tomorrow.

Here are all of the reports, news and analysis from Silverstone today.

SESSION REPORTS

  • After a twelve-hour period of rain overnight, FP3 was a rather soggy affair. Mercedes chose not to run, allowing Sebastian Vettel to top a session for the first time in 2014.
  • The Silver Arrows reigned supreme once again in qualifying though (well, one of them did). Marussia was brilliant, Ferrari and Williams rubbish, and Sauber – despite crashing both cars – matched its best qualy of the year.

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

There’s nothing quite like a bit of rain to spice things up in Formula 1. Qualifying today was meant to be a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers for pole position once again, but Lewis Hamilton’s certainty that the track was too wet proved to be a costly one. Rosberg went for it and stormed to pole position by 1.6 seconds; Hamilton will start sixth.

This is not the first time that Hamilton has made a mistake in qualifying, though. In Austria, the Briton pushed too hard on both of his hot laps and failed to post a time, leaving him down in ninth. Although he did manage to fight his way back through the field to finish second, this mistake did appear to cost him a real shot at catching teammate Nico Rosberg.

Today, it was simply a misjudgement. Hamilton believed that the track was not improving, so bailed on his lap. The other drivers kept pushing, and even though the first sector was indeed wetter (very few improved their times in S1), the final two had dried out considerably – so much so that Rosberg’s lap was over 3.5 seconds quicker than Hamilton’s.

Praise must be heaped upon the drivers that make up the Mercedes sandwich. Sebastian Vettel matched his best qualifying result of the season in second place, whilst Jenson Button put on a show for the home fans in third ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren teammate Kevin Magnussen. Hamilton will have a tough job from P6, but the spirit of 2008 will reverberate around the grandstands at Silverstone.

The real stars were at Marussia, though. Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton perfected the timing of their Q1 laps to get through inside the top ten, but it didn’t stop there. Ferrari junior Bianchi finished a brilliant 12th with Chilton an equally-excellent P13, although he does drop down three places due to a grid penalty.

As for Ferrari and Williams, qualifying was nothing short of disastrous. All of the drivers dropped out in Q1 after badly mistiming their laps, and although some positions are made up because of penalties for Chilton, Gutierrez and Maldonado, neither team was at all pleased with the result. It will be great to see cars capable of making the podium charging through the field, though.

The weather in Britain is far from reliable, but today that was a good thing. Come rain or shine on race day though, it should be a thrilling GP tomorrow.

You can watch the British Grand Prix live on CNBC from 7:30am ET tomorrow morning.

Conor Daly’s IndyCar gets painted

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Conor Daly
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Conor Daly will compete full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series this year in a ride for Dale Coyne Racing.

Daly will make laps in the No. 18 Honda sponsored by Jonathan Byrd’s. The 24-year-old driver tweeted out a picture today of his race car getting painted for the season, which starts on March 13.

Daly has six IndyCar races under his belt so far.

USF2000 reintroduces National Class for 2016

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The National Class is officially back in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series for 2016.

Yes, when Eric Filgueiras and Spencer Racing announced they’d be in the National Class, that kind of gave it away that the class would be back without it being formally introduced.

Luckily though, the series has released the news today. A formal release is below:

Drivers seeking to make their way onto the Mazda Road to Indy now have an alternate, lower-cost route onto the first rung, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, with today’s confirmation that the National Class will be returning in 2016.

The Mazda Road to Indy is unique in the world of auto racing, offering a scholarship-funded path all the way from karting via USF2000, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

Eligible to drivers at least 20 years of age before or during the 2016 season, the National Class will be open to all Sports Car Club of America-legal FC (Formula Continental) cars, from any chassis manufacturer, dating back to 2000. Any aerodynamic devices approved by the SCCA are permitted, although in the interests of safety all cars must be fitted with a nosebox crash structure, wheel tethers, Staubli devices, approved head surrounds and seats and yellow light system as required by all other current USF2000 cars.

Cars will be permitted to run either the same 2.0-liter Mazda MZR engine per the USF2000 Championship Class regulations or sealed 2.0-liter Ford Zetec motors as prepared by Elite Engines or Quicksilver RacEngines with National Class mapping. Any SCCA-legal 6″ and 8″ wheels may be used, although all cars must run on Cooper tires.

Entry fees will be discounted 50 percent below the Championship Class rate, and each race winner will earn a free entry for an upcoming event in the same season. The second-place finisher will claim a 50 percent reduction in the entry fee for an upcoming race. In addition, race winners equipped with the MZR engine will take home a $1,000 award from Mazda.

As an added benefit and based on a minimum average car count of five entries per race weekend, the 2016 National Class champion will receive an “entry ticket” to the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout in the fall of this year where champions of select junior level-open wheel and karting series from around the world will compete for a Mazda scholarship to enter the USF2000 Championship Class in 2017.

The point system will be the same used by the Masters Class (formerly Expert Class) in the Pro Mazda championship.

“We are excited to bring back the National Class and allow drivers to sample the Mazda Road to Indy,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “RC Enerson began his path on the ladder system in the National Class. It’s a great first step onto the platform for many drivers, and we are excited to offer this year’s champion an entry into the Shootout as well as a full-season entry package to USF2000 in 2017 in either the Championship or National Class.”

The Mazda Road to Indy will head to Barber Motorsport Park for Spring Training on March 5 (Indy Lights) and 6/7 (USF2000/Pro Mazda). The 2016 season will kick off on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 11-13 in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Report: Scott Tucker arrested by FBI in payday lending scheme

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JANUARY 30:  The #95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley driven by Scott Tucker, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Richard Westbrook and Raphael Matos during The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 30, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)
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For four years from 2010 to 2013, Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports were American Le Mans Series regulars, first in the Prototype Challenge class and then the LMP2 class. They won, a lot, and were a regular championship-contending effort, plus those who worked for the team had nothing but positive things to say about the operation that was run.

That said, the funding of the team was always perpetually questioned, as Tucker was always allegedly involved within the payday lending business, and had reportedly abusive practices towards customers.

This has been something of a bubbling story for five years but per Reuters, on Wednesday, Tucker and one of his lawyers were arrested by the FBI for their alleged exploitation.

Per Reuters, an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court outlined millions that went to Tucker, who then used it for various luxury items. Allegedly, more than $67 million went to the Level 5 Motorsports race team.

Level 5’s last IMSA series start came under the unified TUDOR United SportsCar Championship umbrella in January 2014, when the team won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GT Daytona class. The team withdrew from the championship following that race.

Social Roundup: IndyCar tests at Sonoma, Fontana

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Simon Pagenaud
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There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

The engines of the Verizon IndyCar Series have roared back to life this week, a month before the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

After a test at Phoenix International Raceway two days ago, two more tests are occurring today in California, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and at Sonoma Raceway.

At Auto Cub Speedway is Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz and James Hinchcliffe.

In Sonoma is the entirety of the Chip Ganassi Racing team and Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud from Team Penske.

Here’s a look at how the day is progressing at each test through social media. We’ll update throughout the day. If you’re attending either test, tweet us pictures at @MotorSportsTalk or @danielmcfadin of how you’re taking in the beginning of the 2016 season.

Sonoma Raceway

Auto Club Speedway