Sebastian Bourdais

IndyCar: Bourdais wins pole for Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio (VIDEO)

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The battle for the Honda 200 pole position came down to the final moments of the Firestone Fast Six, but Toronto Race 1 winner Sebastien Bourdais emerged with the top spot on the grid thanks to his last lap of 1 minute, 24.1610 seconds around a rapidly drying Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Bourdais and the other competitors in the FF6 rode out the final round on the Firestone wet tires despite the changing track, which had been soaked prior to the start of the three-round qualifying session.

American driver Josef Newgarden appeared set to win the pole for the small Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team. But after Bourdais knocked him off the top spot, the Tennessee native could only get back up to second with his last lap of 1:24.6787.

“It was a totally different [third round] than it was in the first two sessions,” Bourdais told IndyCar Radio after his second pole of 2014. “There was a developing dry line so we went from totally outside to having to venture into not really well-known territory with the wet tires, which was really difficult to know when to make the [line] switch.

“The last lap, I knew I was shy and I needed some more, so I went for it. I made it stick, the Mistic machine gave me everything it got, and it was enough.”

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan will start third tomorrow as he hopes to continue his recent run of success. He’ll be joined in Row 2 by Andretti Autosport rookie Carlos Munoz.

Munoz’s teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Team Penske’s Will Power will make up Row 3. Power could have a big chance to overtake Penske partner Helio Castroneves (+13 points over Power) for the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead, as Castroneves was unable to advance out of the first round and will have to start 15th.

Also faltering in the first round were Ryan Briscoe, Charlie Kimball and Scott Dixon – all from the Ganassi stable and all former Mid-Ohio winners. Briscoe and Kimball start 19th and 20th, while Dixon is starting 22nd and dead last.

Chip Ganassi Racing is seeking its sixth consecutive win at Mid-Ohio tomorrow afternoon (see some highlights from their current win streak here).

Under damp conditions, qualifying got underway with a red flag in Group 1 as multiple drivers including Briscoe, Power, and James Hinchcliffe all went off the slippery course just a few minutes into the 10-minute run. Officially, Briscoe triggered the red as he was briefly unable to get going after his spin in Turn 11.

The green returned with less than five minutes remaining, but almost immediately, another red came out for a spin involving Takuma Sato in Turn 6.

The session ran out of time while Sato was having his car restarted, but Race Control opted to give the drivers an additional period of time to run one more timed lap at speed. Juan Pablo Montoya, Carlos Huertas, Power, Simon Pagenaud, Mike Conway, and Kanaan were able to advance after the one-lap dash.

Group 2 also had an early red flag for Dixon, who slid into the grass at Turn 9. The green came back with less than four minutes left and when the time ran out, Hunter-Reay, Bourdais, Newgarden, Munoz, Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson had all posted laps good enough to advance to Round 2.

A spin for Montoya in Turn 1 briefly redflagged the second round of qualifying, costing him his two best laps. Montoya would wind up not advancing to the Firestone Fast 6 (he’ll start 11th), but Bourdais, Hunter-Reay, Kanaan, Munoz, Newgarden and Power did make it to the last round.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES AT MID-OHIO – HONDA 200
Qualifying Results
FIRESTONE FAST SIX
1. 11-Sebastien Bourdais, 1:24.1610
2. 67-Josef Newgarden
3. 10-Tony Kanaan
4. 34-Carlos Munoz
5. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay
6. 12-Will Power
ELIMINATED IN SECOND ROUND
7. 15-Graham Rahal
8. 19-Justin Wilson
9. 77-Simon Pagenaud
10. 18-Carlos Huertas
11. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya
12. 20-Mike Conway
ELIMINATED IN FIRST ROUND (GROUP QUALIFYING)
13. 7-Mikhail Aleshin
14. 17-Sebastian Saavedra
15. 3-Helio Castroneves
16. 25-Marco Andretti
17. 27-James Hinchcliffe
18. 98-Jack Hawksworth
19. 8-Ryan Briscoe
20. 83-Charlie Kimball
21. 14-Takuma Sato
22. 9-Scott Dixon

Liberty Media offers $400m in F1 shares to teams

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo leads Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF16- Ferrari 059/5 turbo (Shell GP), Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer and the rest of the field at the start during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Liberty Media has announced that $400 million worth of shares in Formula 1 will be set aside for teams to purchase following its acquisition of the sport.

Liberty announced in September that it had agreed to purchase F1 in an $8 billion deal, with final approval being given by the series’ governing body, the FIA, earlier this week. The takeover is set to be completed by the end of January.

Liberty issued a statement on Thursday confirming that it has allocated $400 million worth of shares to be bought by the teams racing in F1, with the idea being part of its mission statement after its initial offer was accepted.

“Liberty Media Corporation announced today that it intends to issue cash convertible senior notes in a private offering,” the statement reads.

“The notes will be convertible into cash in an amount determined by reference to the trading price of shares of Series C Liberty Media common stock (“LMCK”).

“Liberty expects to use the net proceeds of the offering to fund an increase to the cash consideration payable to the selling shareholders (the “Selling Shareholders”) of Formula 1 (“F1″) by $400 million and retain in treasury the approximately 19 million shares that would otherwise have been issuable to the Selling Shareholders based on the per share purchase price of $21.26. These LMCK shares will be reserved by Liberty for issuance to the F1 teams at a per share purchase price of $21.26.”

“We think it’s important to offer the teams the chance to invest in F1 and further align our interests,” Liberty president and CEO Greg Maffei said.

“We look forward to working with the teams to increase the appeal of this iconic sport and enhance the F1 business.”

F1 chairman Chase Carey added: “Several of the teams have expressed interest in investing and we have already begun productive discussions to make the sport more competitive and even more exciting.”

After winning Indy 500, Alexander Rossi has even greater goal for 2017

100th Indianapolis 500 Winner Alexander Rossi Visits The Empire State Building
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Yesterday, the Indy 500. Tomorrow, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

That’s essentially Alexander Rossi’s mindset for 2017.

After being the surprise winner of the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, as well as earning both Indy 500 and IndyCar Rookie of the Year honors in 2016, Rossi is ready to make the next step — a very big step indeed.

Sure, he’d love to repeat as 500 winner, but the series championship is his No. 1 priority – and he’s ready to go for the jugular right from the opening race of the 2017 season in March in St. Petersburg, Florida.

When asked during Wednesday’s IndyCar Media Day just how important a strong start will be this season, the Andretti Herta Autosport (with Curb-Agajanian) driver quickly replied, “Very important.”

“Racing is momentum and confidence, and all of the adjectives that relate to those things,” Rossi continued. “If you are on the back foot from day one, you’re always playing catch-up.”

Rossi quickly points to Will Power as a perfect example of why a strong start is important. Power missed the 2016 season-opening race in St. Pete due to reported lingering effects of an inner ear infection following a crash the day before in practice, which was inadvertently misdiagnosed as a concussion.

Power did not earn any points after missing the race, which he feared would keep him behind the eight-ball the remainder of the season. But Power went on a strong run and was able to finish second.

Still, if Power had raced at St. Pete, he may have eventually overtaken teammate Simon Pagenaud for the championship.

“We saw it a little bit with Will last year,” Rossi said. “He obviously is more than capable of winning championships but was always playing catch-up from St. Pete.

“It’s very important to come out of the box strong. Do you have to win, no, but I mean, you need to be fighting for the win at least and show that you’re competitive.”

Now that he’s won the biggest race in the world, Rossi knows he can’t live on his laurels or what happened last year. While winning the 500 was life-changing, his performance in the other 15 races of the 2016 season was more mediocre than good.

He had just one other top-five finish (fifth in the season finale at Sonoma), a sixth-place finish at Iowa and a pair of 10th-place finishes (Indy Grand Prix, Belle Isle 1).

Then there was the bad part of the season: seven finishes of 14th or lower, one DNF (Pocono) and ended the season with an average starting position of 14.3 and an average finish of 11.8.

“So ’16 was a lot of things,” Rossi said. “Most of it was a learning experience, from not only learning a new team, new car, new tracks, but a completely new organization in the Verizon IndyCar Series, and it was a very positive experience for most of that.

“With that being said, the year aside from the month of May was pretty difficult, and we weren’t very happy with how it went in any way as a four-car effort.

“Going into 2017 we have a lot higher expectations, and we’ve made a big push this off-season to rectify a lot of the things that didn’t go well. Obviously I’m looking forward to going back to Indianapolis in May, but by the same token, I’m just as excited about all the other races because I feel like we have a pretty big point to prove, and road and street courses, which were supposed to be my strong suit coming into IndyCar, they were not, and ovals were.”

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Williams felt bad asking Felipe Massa to come out of F1 retirement

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 13:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams waves farewell to the Brazilian crowd during the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 13, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Williams Formula 1 deputy team boss Claire Williams says she felt bad asking Felipe Massa to backtrack on his decision to retire from racing and return for the 2017 season.

Massa announced in September that he would be calling time on his 14-year F1 career at the end of 2016, making what was expected to be his final start in Abu Dhabi.

Massa’s departure freed up a seat at the team for 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll, who was due to partner Valtteri Bottas through 2017.

Bottas was released from his Williams contract after being approached by Mercedes to replace Nico Rosberg following the world champion’s shock decision to retire, announced in December.

With Williams keen to hire an experienced driver to partner Stroll in his rookie year, the team turned to Massa and asked him to come out of retirement.

“We are never going to put a driver in the car who we don’t believe can deliver,” Claire Williams told Sky Sports.

“As everyone saw even in his last race last year, he delivered for this team. He has lost none of his motivation.

“I know there’s a lot of talk out there ‘let the guy retire, leave him alone’ – he wants to come back.

“Little-known to me, I didn’t actually realize that he didn’t really want to retire and so I think Felipe is going to do a good job this year.”

Williams said she felt bad asking Massa to go back on his decision following the fanfare and tributes surrounding his final few races, but her fears were allayed when the Brazilian was receptive to the offer.

“Bless him, Felipe had announced his retirement, we had a whole fanfare around it, and then to have to phone your ex-driver up and say ‘would you mind coming out of retirement?’ you feel quite bad about it,” Williams said.

“But I’ve never heard anyone so happy and excited, so it was a big relief for us.”

Massa will return to on-track duties with Williams next month, taking part in the first pre-season test in Barcelona on February 27 alongside Stroll in the FW40 car.

Spectator dies after accident on opening stage of Monte Carlo rally

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Officials have confirmed that a spectator has died following an accident on the first stage of the Monte Carlo Rally on Thursday night, the opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon slid off the route towards the end of the 21.25 km stage between Entrevaux and Ubraye, with his car blocking the course.

Emergency services were quickly called when it emerged that a spectator had been hurt in the accident, with rally officials confirming later in the evening that the fan had died as a result of injuries sustained.

“The Automobile Club de Monaco regrets to advise further details following incident of the car #4 (Paddon/Kennard) in SS 1,” a statement from the rally organizers read.

“The spectator was transported by helicopter from the stage to hospital in Nice. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff, the spectator has sadly died.

“An investigation has commenced into the incident and all involved parties will provide assistance to the authorities.

“Everyone associated with the event extends their deepest sympathies and condolences to the families, friends and individuals affected.”

Hyundai issued its own statement soon after: “Hyundai Motorsport is deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of a spectator during the opening stage of Rallye Monte-Carlo on Thursday evening.

“The incident occurred at the same time as the #4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC of Hayden Paddon and John Kennard crashed into the mountainside, after the car hit a patch of black ice at the entry to a left-hand turn.

“The team and crew have pledged their full support to the event organisers and authorities to understand the full details.

“Hyundai Motorsport extends its condolences to the family, friends and individuals affected.”

The stage was cancelled following the incident, with the rally resuming on stage two later in the evening. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville currently leads by 7.8 seconds from defending world champion Sebastien Ogier.

Paddon’s car has been withdrawn from the remainder of the rally as a result of the incident on Friday.