Report: Andretti Sports Marketing adds ex-St. Pete race president

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Interesting story to pass on in the “business of racing” section this morning. Former Grand Prix of St. Petersburg president Tim Ramsberger is leaving the event to join Andretti Sports Marketing, per the Tampa Bay Times.

It marks the second high-profile departure from the St. Pete event in the last year; Honda also ended its title sponsorship prior to the 2014 race, but on that front, Firestone took over.

The St. Pete race – along with races in Toronto and Mid-Ohio – are run and operated by Green Savoree Racing Promotions, which sees former Andretti partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree in charge on their own.

Andretti Sports Marketing, meanwhile, has quickly risen in the racing world. The organization promotes the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Milwaukee IndyFest, and also promotes races within Red Bull Global Rallycross (Volkswagen Rallycross DC) and FIA Formula E (planned Miami round).

Ramsberger told the Times he sees a better opportunity for himself within Andretti Sports Marketing, looking long-term.

“I think it’s a great opportunity and probably just a better opportunity for growth for me professionally long term,” he said.

Savoree told the Times not to worry and that plans are in place to keep the Green Savoree events running smoothly and with solid enough financial footing for the next several years.

The three Green Savoree events for IndyCar for 2014 are in the books – all of St. Pete, Toronto and Mid-Ohio had the unfortunate luck of rain falling on Saturday this year and races were either canceled (Pirelli World Challenge Round 1 at St. Pete) or postponed (IndyCar race 1 in Toronto). But race day crowds at each event looked healthy.

Meanwhile Andretti’s first IndyCar race of the year – Milwaukee – is next up on the schedule. It runs August 16-17 at the Milwaukee Mile.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.