Germany F1 GP Auto Racing

Rosberg claims pole for German GP as Hamilton crashes out

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Nico Rosberg has secured his fifth pole position of the 2014 F1 season today at Hockenheim after Lewis Hamilton crashed his car in Q1, leaving the German with only the Williams drivers to contend with at the front of the field.

Rosberg went unchallenged on Saturday at his home circuit, after Hamilton’s terrifying brake failure in Q1 left the Briton in the wall and down in 15th place on the grid. However, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa put in good performances to qualify second and third respectively, giving Mercedes some food for thought, but ultimately the German marque reigned supreme again with its ninth pole in ten races.

As Q1 got underway at Hockenheim, Caterham faced a race against time to get Marcus Ericsson’s car repaired following a hydraulic issue that had sidelined him during FP3. Eventually, the team was forced to throw in the towel, meaning that he will start tomorrow’s race from last place.

The rest of the field did manage to get out early in the first part of qualifying, and Lewis Hamilton quickly rose to the top of the timesheets with his first flying lap. However, as he went about beating Valtteri Bottas, who had gone four-tenths quicker, Hamilton suffered a terrifying brake failure, causing his Mercedes car to crash into the wall at turn 11 at high speed. A red flag was immediately shown, and Hamilton thankfully walked away from the shunt with nothing more than his pride bruised.

The session restarted once the debris had been cleared, with Rosberg – having yet to set a time – heading out immediately on a set of super-soft tires. He went fastest on his first lap on the option compound, and duly finished the session there, a full five-tenths clear of the rest of the field. Predictably, the Marussia drivers joined Ericsson and Caterham teammate Kamui Kobayashi in the dropzone, with Adrian Sutil and Pastor Maldonado also failing to make it through to Q2.

Rosberg continued to set the pace in the second part of qualifying, immediately setting the pace ahead of Bottas and Vettel. McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen put in a good first run to sit fourth, whilst Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez both found themselves in the dropzone with five minutes to go.

They eventually went out to better their times, but Raikkonen could not find enough time to move out of the dropzone. He will start tomorrow’s race from a disappointing 12th place. Perez managed to get into Q3 by a very narrow margin ahead of Jenson Button, who finished 11th. Jean-Eric Vergne, Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean were also eliminated, with the latter also having to serve a three-place grid drop carried over from the British Grand Prix.

The final session saw the drivers complete two runs on the super-soft tire in their bids for pole position, and Perez was the first to post a lap time. His initial benchmark of 1:19.395 was soon beaten when Rosberg showed up, the German going almost three seconds quicker. Bottas and Massa slotted into second and third place with their first efforts, but after the initial runs, it was clear that it would take something spectacular to beat Rosberg.

Although Bottas was up on the pole time through the second sector, he just fell short of Rosberg’s best effort, meaning that the German’s own inability to improve went unpunished. Williams once again finished as best of the rest behind Mercedes in second and third, with Kevin Magnussen finishing a fine fourth for McLaren. Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel locked out the third row for Red Bull ahead of Fernando Alonso and Daniil Kyat. The Force India pairing of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten.

With his fourth pole in five races, Rosberg now has a chance to cap off a perfect week. Since the British Grand Prix, he has got married, seen Germany win the FIFA World Cup, signed a new long term deal with Mercedes and now secured pole position for his home grand prix. However, he will need to convert it into a fourth win of the season tomorrow if he is to truly take control of this world championship.

Graham Rahal visits the Honda Classic (PHOTOS)

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Rahal for the putt. Photo courtesy Honda Racing
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In the buildup to the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season opener at St. Petersburg on March 12, a number of drivers are visiting other sporting events of note.

Graham Rahal has been one of the busiest. The driver of the No. 15 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing made a pit stop at the Bridgestone Winter Classic in January and this week has been out to the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Anyway, 28-year-old Rahal is an avid PGA Tour follower and fan and when time allows, brushes off his own set of clubs for the event’s Honda Classic Cares Pro Am presented by Tire Kingdom. He’s also used golf as a fundraiser; he’s raised over $300,000 to benefit children’s charities (with the golf tournament he did around the Indy 500).

Rahal, who won the Pro Am twice in 2011 and 2012 and came second the next year with motorsports fan Rickie Fowler, himself one of the young stars on the PGA Tour, was only able to get in four holes this week owing to poor weather. But with a new putter that’s the same model as the one used by recent world number one player Jason Day, Rahal sank a rather impressive 40-foot putt. Rahal was playing in a group with Smylie Kaufman, and credited him for the advice.

A handful of photos from the event are below (courtesy Honda Racing):

Rahal with Rickie Fowler.
Rahal with Rickie Fowler.
Rahal with Smylie Kaufman.
Rahal with Smylie Kaufman.
Rahal with Daniel Berger, golfer and car enthusiast.
Rahal with Daniel Berger, golfer and car enthusiast.
Rahal with Emma Talley, LPGA Tour rising star and Crimson Tide alumna.
Rahal with Emma Talley, LPGA Tour rising star and Crimson Tide alumna.
Rahal tees off.
Rahal tees off.
Rahal with Shane and Wyatt Vince.
Rahal with Shane and Wyatt Vince.

Shell, Penske extension sees Shell back for Castroneves at Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 18:  Helio Castroneves of Brazil, driver of the #3 Shell V-Power/Penzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet, poses after qualifying for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 18, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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With Shell and Pennzoil having had a longterm business relationship with Team Penske, today’s long-term extension through 2022 and beyond also means Shell’s relationship on Penske’s Verizon IndyCar Series program continues.

Helio Castroneves’s No. 3 Chevrolet will be adorned in Shell V-Power NiTRO+ colors at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28, with Shell and Pennzoil continuing as associate sponsors on all Team Penske cars in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and IndyCar.

Castroneves’ car has had either Shell or Pennzoil on his car each of the last six Indianapolis 500s dating to 2011, but has not yet won an Indianapolis 500 with Shell or Pennzoil as the primary sponsor. The Rick Mears tribute “Yelio Submarine” ran in both 2014 and 2016, with the 2014 race a particularly tough loss as Castroneves came second by a fraction to Ryan Hunter-Reay.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 17: Helio Castroneves appears at a Shell station on May 17, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images for MATTER)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 17: Helio Castroneves appears at a Shell station on May 17, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images for MATTER)

Castroneves has had Shell V-Power for the Indianapolis 500 in 2011, Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra in 2012 and 2013 and Shell V-Power Nitro+ in 2015.

In those six races, Castroneves has finished 17th, 10th, sixth, second, seventh and 11th.

“It’s an iconic sponsor; a partner actually, to be honest,” Castroneves said during the announcement at Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500.

“Since I was a kid in Brazil, watching Formula 1 and IndyCar, now I’m the one to be wearing that patch in my suit.

“I’m really excited to be back for the Indy 500. We’ll be with Shell NiTRO+ V-Power. They’re always innovating and in the technical part.

“We’re going for our fourth win… we’ve been so close. We know we can make it happen. We have the equipment and teammates to make it happen. It’s an amazing organization, and I’m so thankful to be part of it.”

Castroneves is the longest tenured active member of Team Penske’s driver lineup in all its series as he heads into his 18th season with the team and 20th overall since joining IndyCar in 1998.

Full-season teammates are defending champion Simon Pagenaud, 2014 champion Will Power and new recruit Josef Newgarden, with two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya joining the field in a fifth car for the ‘500.

Commercial partners for Montoya’s car haven’t yet been announced but with Menards (Pagenaud), Verizon (Power) and likely Verizon (Newgarden) for the ‘500, it stands to reason another of Penske’s longterm sponsors will be present for Montoya.

Roger Penske, who turned 80 earlier this week, made a great and key point during the Daytona announcement; he noted that of his 38 sponsors for the race team, he has business relationships with 25 of them.

Sauber confirms Giovinazzi to deputize for Wehrlein at first test

MACAU, MACAO - NOVEMBER 17:  Double R Racing driver Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy in action during the Formula 3 event as part of the 60th Macau Grand Prix on November 17, 2013 in Macau, Macau.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)
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As expected, but not necessarily official until confirmed directly by Sauber F1 Team, Ferrari third driver Antonio Giovinazzi has been confirmed to fill in for Pascal Wehrlein at next week’s first test of the Formula 1 season at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona which runs from February 27-March 2. The second test, also in Barcelona, is March 7-10.

Sauber called Wehrlein’s injuries, reported as either neck or back injuries in other outlets, “back problems” and said further information will follow when available.

The team has not, as yet, confirmed its test plan of when Giovinazzi and Marcus Ericsson, who ran the team’s filming day earlier this week, will drive.

“We took the decision that Pascal will not be driving in the first test in Barcelona. We will monitor his medical progress and will then decide on the next steps,” Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said in a release.

Wehrlein had already confirmed his absence but the team hadn’t, yet. He will be on site though.

“It is a pity that I cannot be in the car during the first test days, but I will be in Barcelona in order to get familiar with the team’s procedures and also to follow the Sauber C36-Ferrari on track,” he said.

Giovinazzi, who made his first test with Ferrari at the tail end of last year, added, “I thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this real, and also Ferrari for allowing me to replace Pascal for test one in Barcelona.”

Williams announces deal with JCB manufacturing

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Photo: Williams Martini Racing
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Construction equipment manufacturer JCB has pegged a deal with Williams Martini Racing, to see the logo on the rear wing endplate of the Williams FW40 chassis, Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll’s helmets, and the full crew uniforms after the British Grand Prix.

Interestingly, the team’s release says this will be the first of “a number” following the signing of Stroll this season.

Company chairman Lord Bamford caught the racing bug in the early 1970s and, according to the team, the JCB Dieselmax car still holds the world diesel land speed record of 350.052mph, more than a decade after it was set on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA.

“I am an engineer and a manufacturer and designing and engineering innovative products is at the core of what JCB does,” Bamford said in the release.

“We frequently combine our engineering expertise with some of the best automotive technologies which means our machines are very fuel efficient and intuitive to operate. Our partnership with Williams Martini Racing builds on that innovative and technological link and our company’s long association with motorsport.”