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


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.

Rosberg wary of engine power deficit in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg is anticipating a tough weekend in Abu Dhabi due to a deficit in engine power caused by the high mileage on his current unit.

Rosberg and the Mercedes team have managed to avoid any engine-related grid penalties in 2015 by keeping within the limit of four power units per season.

By doing so, Mercedes has been forced into extending the milage of its engines, with a failure for Rosberg at the Italian Grand Prix in September having a knock-on effect at the end of the season.

Rosberg therefore arrives in Abu Dhabi with an engine down on power that makes him wary of his chances despite leading practice on Friday.

“It’s been a good start here in Abu Dhabi, but it will be a tough weekend for me as I have quite a high mileage engine in my car,” Rosberg said.

“After the Monza problem, we have had to stretch the engine life more than we had planned over the 19 races, so I definitely have a small lack of power on the straights and therefore need to make up extra time in the corners.

“It will be a big battle with Lewis here. He didn’t really bring together his quick laps, so it will be even closer tomorrow I’m sure. I’m looking forward to it and I definitely want to win this race and give the boys in the garage a reason to celebrate at the end of the season.”

On the other side of the Mercedes garage, world champion Lewis Hamilton was left unhappy with Mercedes’ long-run pace in practice, believing that there is ground to be made up.

“The long run pace doesn’t feel quite as strong so that’s something I need to work on,” Hamilton said. “I’ll probably make some more tweaks tonight and hopefully tomorrow it will be better.

“It’s very hard to overtake here, so of course it’s better to be up on pole. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to win from further back.”

Renault: Lotus announcement “very likely” next week

xxxx during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
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Renault Formula 1 chief Cyril Abiteboul has said that the French manufacturer expects to make an announcement regarding its pending takeover of Lotus next week.

Renault has been engaged in negotiations with Lotus over a takeover of the team for many months, and signed a letter of intent back in September confirming its plans to revive a works F1 operation at Enstone.

Although a deal is still yet to be formally agreed and announced, Renault employees have already started working at Lotus to lay the foundations for 2016.

It was speculated that Renault may announce its takeover of Lotus during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, but Abiteboul confirmed on Friday that nothing would be made official at Yas Marina.

The Frenchman remained coy when asked what exactly Renault’s involvement in F1 would entail in 2016, saying: “I’m afraid I can’t answer to that question. I would like to be in a position to be able to answer to that questions, but I am not today.”

Despite there being no announcement in Abu Dhabi, Abiteboul said that he envisages one being made next week following the conclusion of the 2015 season.

“What I can say is that there will be no announcement regarding Renault’s future – short-term or middle-term future – over the weekend, but there will be an announcement, very likely, in the course of next week,” he said.

“We have always said that we would like to do that after the season. The season is ending on Sunday, around the start of December and that is what we will do stick to that plan, which is to make an announcement then.”

Abiteboul said that every effort was being made to finalize the deal with Lotus, but he is excited about the prospect of Renault returning to F1 with a works team for the first time since 2010.

“It’s fair to say that there is a process going on since the signing of the letter of interest on the 28th of September, there is a process involving a lot of people,” Abiteboul said.

“I think 50 people have been working night and day on the realisation of a possible acquisition of a majority stake in Lotus. It’s just a project, It’s been a proper rollercoaster, very exciting.”

Vettel, Raikkonen take on world’s fastest rollercoaster in Abu Dhabi (VIDEO)

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Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both live life at high-speed racing in Formula 1, but how would they get on when faced with the fastest rollercoaster in the world?

To celebrate the fifth birthday of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Vettel and Raikkonen took on the Formula Rossa rollercoaster alongside reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez and other members of the Ferrari team.

Raikkonen is known for being the ‘Iceman’ and showing little emotion, and this was true even at the fastest points of the rollercoaster ride as he kept a straight face while Vettel raised his arms and whooped with excitement.

Never change, Kimi…

Alonso: Tough year with McLaren “necessary”

xxxx during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
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Fernando Alonso believes that his tough 2015 Formula 1 campaign with McLaren was a “necessary” stage within his racing career.

Alonso left Ferrari at the end of 2014 after five seasons with the Italian marque to rejoin McLaren ahead of its new partnership with Japanese manufacturer Honda.

McLaren-Honda enjoyed immense success in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but 2015 has proven to be a stark juxtaposition thanks to numerous problems with the power unit.

The issues have limited Alonso to just two top-ten finishes in 2015, yielding 11 points to leave him a lowly 17th in the drivers’ championships.

However, the Spaniard was upbeat when reflecting on the season in spite of McLaren’s troubles, believing it to be an important stepping stone.

“Well, tough year, obviously difficult and struggling with the pace all year and the reliability, so definitely a difficult season for us,” Alonso conceded.

“But personally I think it was necessary. It was a step forward in my career after the two championships, after five fantastic seasons fighting for the world championship but arriving second, so I needed some new motivation, some new project that I could trust and I could believe is the only way to become champion again.

“After one difficult season, as I said, I learn so much. I enjoy working with McLaren, with Honda, with all the Japanese discipline and Japanese culture into the team.

“I still remain very positive. I’m very, very happy and looking forward to next year being a little bit easier than this one that, as I said, has been difficult in terms of results.”

Looking ahead to 2016, Alonso expects McLaren to make progress and move up the grid, but is unsure whether it will make enough of a leap forward to challenge for race wins once again.

“At the moment there’s a question mark, I guess, where McLaren-Honda can be next year,” Alonso said.

“There are a lot of expectations in the team. I think we worked really all season, being united in some difficult moments and always moving forward, so I think for 2016 the main goal for the team is to come back to where we belong, we think, and being competitive, fighting for the top positions.

“I don’t know if that means fighting for the championship, I don’t know if that means fighting for victories of just being on the podium sometimes, that’s always difficult to know in a very complex sport like Formula One.

“There are definitely some big challenges ahead in this winter and I see all the things that the team has done in the last couple of months and these seem very logical, very positive and I’m confident that it’s going to be a completely different season next year and I’m happy with the progress.”