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IndyCar Race 1 from Toronto postponed due to rain; revised Sunday schedule released (UPDATED)

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9 p.m. ET – We also have a channel change now confirmed for Race 1 on Sunday in Toronto. That will be airing on CNBC after the Formula One German Grand Prix. Coverage of IndyCar Race 2 will start at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

8:30 p.m. ET – A change has been made on the length of tomorrow’s two Verizon IndyCar Series races. Instead of 75 laps as initially stated, each race will run 65 laps or 80 minutes, whichever comes first.

A full Sunday schedule has now been released for all series in Toronto, as tweeted here by More Front Wing. All times are ET:

7:10 p.m. ET – We have an update on at least the IndyCar portion of the schedule for Sunday.

Race 1 will have a green flag at 10:30 a.m. ET, with a rolling start and the grid set by the qualifying positions as were qualified (Sebastien Bourdais on the pole). Cars 2 (Juan Pablo Montoya), 8 (Ryan Briscoe) and 12 (Will Power) will retain their original starting positions, as the race never technically started. They were due to incur penalties and be sent to the back.

Race 2 will have a green flag at 4:15 p.m., with a standing start and the grid set by entrant points entering the weekend (Helio Castroneves will be on pole). Both races will air on NBCSN.

The remaining schedule for support series races will be determined next.

6:25 p.m. ET – Persistent rains have forced IndyCar to postpone today’s Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader after two red flags and several incidents.

A revised schedule for tomorrow, which was to feature a second, 85-lap race for the Verizon IndyCar Series, will be released shortly.

All but three drivers were going to start today’s race on the Firestone alternate “red” slick tires, but steady pre-race showers caused IndyCar to declare the race as a wet start, putting the drivers on rain tires.

The rain appeared to pick up even further during pace laps and a pre-emptive red flag was waved due to driver visibility issues. Graham Rahal, who started in Row 8, had this to say over his Rahal Letterman Lanigan team’s radio:

Cars were released back to the teams for a 10-15 minute period in which adjustments could be made to them before they went back out. Race Control also decided that because of conditions, the standing start would be abandoned in favor of a single-file rolling start.

But after the first red flag ended and the field came back out to the track for another set of pace laps, several incidents occurred.

Ryan Briscoe went into the tires at Turn 5 but was able to reverse and keep going – albeit at the cost of his starting spot. Then after the field got the one-to-go signal, the Honda pace car slid and spun off-course at Turn 3.

The pace car then pulled off early, but as the field was heading for the green flag, Will Power lost control in Turn 10 and slammed into the inside wall.

Race Control declared no start as Power’s No. 12 Team Penske crew pushed his wounded car back to their pit box for rear suspension repairs.

But when a second red flag came out just before 5 p.m. ET, that proved to be a lucky break for Team Penske, which was allowed to continue working on repairing Power’s car.

A few minutes after 5:30 p.m. ET, the No. 12 was spotted being rolled back to pit road.

Not everyone was happy about that, with Andretti Autosport team owner Michael Andretti telling NBCSN that it was a violation of the rules.

“If this thing goes green, we’re gonna have to talk about it,” said Andretti at the time. “Because they basically allowed them to work on their car when nobody else was allowed to touch their cars. So why are they having an exception over the rest of the cars in the field?

“It’ll be interesting, if this thing does goes green, what the rest of the field [thinks] – I’m sure we’re not the only ones that feel that way about it. Stay tuned.”

However, since the No. 12 crew was allowed to make repairs under the red, Power had to start the race from the rear of the field, not his second-place qualifying position.

Still, Power – who sits just nine points behind teammate Helio Castroneves for the top spot in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship – was happy that his team was able to repair his car after his mistake.

“What’s the chance of that – my guys did a phenomenal job,” Power told NBCSN. “And the time that they got that thing fixed! It’s unbelievable to be sitting back in pit lane.”

Also due to be starting from the rear was Briscoe (because of his earlier run-in with the Turn 5 tires) and Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified 11th. IndyCar eventually explained why Montoya was being sent to the rear:

During this second red flag, IndyCar also said that the race distance would be shortened to 65 laps or 90 minutes, whichever came first.

However, since the schedule is now being revised for Sunday, it’s unknown if this part will be carried over.

Hill expects Rosberg to be ‘more formidable’ in 2016

xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez  on November 1, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico.
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1996 Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill believes that Nico Rosberg will be “more formidable” in 2016 following his back-to-back title defeats to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Rosberg took the title race down to the final race of the year in 2014 before losing to Hamilton, and proved to be the Briton’s closest rival again in 2015, albeit losing the championship with three rounds remaining.

Rosberg endured a five-month winless streak last season that led many to question his ability to battle with Hamilton for a championship, only for the German to answer by winning the final three races of the year.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Hill said that Rosberg showed his true strength with this trio of victories, signalling that he could put up a greater fight to Hamilton for the title in 2016.

“I think he is a little bit more formidable now,” Hill said. “I think after the Austin defeat, that day when he lost the championship and Lewis infamously tossed the cap and he tossed it straight back, there was a moment where Nico said ‘OK, I am not going to take this anymore’ and he did go ahead and win all the remaining races.

“He can go on ahead and become the other world champion’s son [Keke Rosberg won the F1 title in 1982] to become a world champion himself.

“He probably knows time is running out and when you get all those ingredients together you maybe get a little bit of a hardening of the determination. Maybe he will be more determined this year and harder to beat.”

MotoGP to introduce stewards’ panel for 2016 season

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 25:  Marc Marquez of Spain and Repsol Honda Team leads Valentino Rossi of Italy and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP during the MotoGP race during the MotoGP Of Malaysia at Sepang Circuit on October 25, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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The FIM has confirmed that a new, dedicated stewards’ panel will be created for the 2016 MotoGP season following the controversy between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez at the end of last year.

Rossi and Marquez became embroiled in a tense rivalry that saw them clash in Malaysia, with Rossi appearing to raise his leg and cause his adversary to fall from his bike.

Rossi was handed a penalty that dropped him to the back of the grid for the championship decider in Valencia, where Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo clinched a third world title.

The incident did little good of the reputation of the drivers involved nor MotoGP as a whole, prompting officials to create a new stewards’ panel for 2016 that will deal with similar affairs.

Previously, race direction has also dealt with stewarding matters, but these responsibilities will now be split for 2016.

“We want to let race direction focus on managing the races because there are a lot of responsibilities and delicate matters to do,” FIM president Vito Ippolito said.

“We want to let them be free to manage the race but not to involve them anymore with the task of penalizing riders. It needs more time and special dedication.

“On the other side we will have the panel of three stewards. It will be the current race director who is Mike Webb and two more stewards from the FIM.

“One of them possibily also a permanent steward as we think with this structure, with this panel of stewards completely dedicated to judge the behaviour of riders during the races and practice, we can achieve a very high level of decisions.”

Vandoorne was considered for Renault Formula 1 seat

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE - JANUARY 25:  Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium and McLaren Honda drives during wet weather tyre testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 25, 2016 in Le Castellet, France.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Newly-appointed Renault Sport racing director Frederic Vasseur claims that the French manufacturer considered signing GP2 champion and McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne for its comeback season in Formula 1.

Renault will return to F1 this year with a works team for the first time since 2010, and unveiled its driver line-up of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer at an event in France on Wednesday.

Magnussen was drafted in to replace Pastor Maldonado after the Venezuelan driver’s financial backing fell through and negotiations with the team broke down.

Speaking to DH.be, Vasseur revealed that Vandoorne was considered for the seat before Renault ultimately signed Magnussen for 2016.

“We had to put a cross next to Stoffel. He is under contract with McLaren and the team did not want to part ways,” Vasseur said.

“So we needed someone who was available and our choice was therefore focused on Kevin.”

Vandoorne is set to race in the Japanese Super Formula series in 2016, having tested a car over the winter. Despite winning the 2015 GP2 title in record-breaking fashion, the Belgian is not yet able to make the step up to F1, but looks set to do so with McLaren when either Jenson Button or Fernando Alonso leave the team.

Buemi content with fightback to second in Buenos Aires

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 6:  In this handout image supplied by Formula E, Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Renault e.Dams Z.E.15 & Sam Bird (GBR), DS Virgin Racing DSV-01, 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 – Sebastien Buemi felt content with his performance in Saturday’s Buenos Aires ePrix after bouncing back from a mistake in qualifying to finish second and extend his lead at the top of the Formula E drivers’ championship.

Buemi locked up during his 200kW lap in qualifying at Puerto Madero to resign himself to 18th position on the grid, handing his rivals an opportunity to overhaul him in the title race.

The Renault e.dams driver produced a spirited display to pick through the order during the race before coming into contention for the win late on after a safety car period.

Although Buemi could not overhaul DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird at the front of the pack, he remained happy with second place in light of his qualifying error.

“The mistake in qualifying was very annoying, because when you have such a good car and such a good team, you want to reward them with the best possible result,” Buemi told MotorSportsTalk.

“But in the end I did my best to come back. I think I did a good job. 18 points are better than zero so happy with that.”

Buemi is now targeting an error-free weekend at the next race in Mexico City as he looks to extend the four-point gap to Lucas di Grassi at the top of the standings.

“Clearly [the result] shows that we have a very strong car and we just need to make sure from now on we don’t miss any points,” Buemi said.

“Putrajaya, the team made a mistake, the car didn’t finish the race. But today obviously I made one [in qualifying] and I tried to work the car to catch it back.

“We’ve seen today that it’s easy to leave the weekend with zero points. I have only four points advantage in the championship, so I’m going to try to expand it as much as possible.”