Valtteri Bottas

Bottas breaks Mercedes’ stranglehold at Spa by topping FP3

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Valtteri Bottas has broken Mercedes’ dominance at the top of the timesheets in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix by finishing fastest in a damp final practice session at Spa-Francorchamps today.

The Finn posted a best time of 1:49.465 to finish two-tenths of a second clear of Daniel Ricciardo at the top, whilst Nico Rosberg came home in third ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

FP3 began in wet conditions following rain showers on Saturday morning. All of the drivers completed their installation laps on intermediate compound tires, before sitting in the pits and waiting for the track to dry. Only Andre Lotterer, Jules Bianchi and Esteban Gutierrez opted to post a time in the first half of the session.

However, it came alive once a dry line had been formed at Spa, allowing the drivers to head out on the medium compound tires. Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas both enjoyed some time at the top of the timesheets, but Mercedes once again came good with Hamilton edging out Rosberg by 0.001 seconds after the first runs.

With five minutes to go, the drivers headed back out on the quicker soft tire for their final qualifying simulations. Kimi Raikkonen was the first to lay down the gauntlet and beat Hamilton’s time before the Briton matched his lap to the thousandth of a second. Bottas moved back up to P1 by three-tenths soon after, with Rosberg slotting into second place behind the Finn. Ricciardo was the only late improver, moving up to second place.

You can watch qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix live on CNBC from 8am ET today.

A look to the future: 2017 Michelin Challenge Design cars revealed

All photos: Michelin
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This was not the best week for sports car racing with Audi’s departure from the FIA World Endurance Championship confirmed at the end of this season.

However, as Audi raised the game in so many aspects, so too could the next generation of designers, and that’s where Michelin Challenge Design comes in.

Announced last Friday, the winners of 2017 Michelin Challenge Design’s “Le Mans 2030: Design for the Win” competition were revealed, created in partnership with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.

There were more than 1,600 entrants from more than 80 countries who came up with design ideas for the next generation of cars.

“The winners of our 2017 Michelin Challenge Design presented numerous highly innovative features for the Le Mans race in the year 2030 and the quality of work from this year’s entries was truly outstanding,” said Thom Roach, vice president of original-equipment marketing for Michelin North America.

“We congratulate the winners for their thought-provoking, visually captivating designs for the world’s greatest endurance race, Le Mans 24 Hours.”

The three winners of the 2017 Michelin Challenge Design, and their designs, are linked below. Further information is available here via

Winners of the 2017 Michelin Challenge Design:

  • First place: Tao Ni of Wuhu, China, for design entry “Infiniti Le Mans 2030”
  • Second place: Daniel Bacelar Pereira of Vila Real, Portugal, for “Bentley 9 Plus Michelin Battery Slick”
  • Third place: Kurt Scanlan of Toronto, Canada for “Cierzo C1”

First Place


Second Place


Third Place


Red Bull GRC adds electric series for 2018

Speed leads. Photo: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool
Photo: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool
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Red Bull Global Rallycross will add an electric standalone series to its Supercars and GRC Lites divisions from the 2018 season. Further details about what type vehicles and the name of the series will be present will come in the coming year.

Here’s the release, below:

Red Bull Global Rallycross will continue to position itself at the forefront of motorsport technology with the creation of an all-electric vehicle series for the 2018 season. Electric vehicles will be added to Red Bull GRC race weekends as a distinct, standalone series, joining the Supercar and GRC Lites classes in the series’ race program. Red Bull GRC, in conjunction with USAC (United States Auto Club), will serve as the governing body for the new series.

“Red Bull Global Rallycross is pleased to add to our rallycross platform an electric series,” said Red Bull GRC CEO Colin Dyne. “The 2018 season will be a landmark year for us as we welcome electric vehicles to the grid for the first time. The electric car is one of the hottest topics in the automotive industry, and manufacturers across the globe have recognized its immense potential. We want to embrace this technology by welcoming it into our series as we continue to grow and expand.

“Our current platform is the most enticing in motorsports right now to a young, millennial audience. Our small displacement, high-horsepower, turbocharged engines allow our manufacturers to showcase the performance capabilities of their current millennial-focused offerings, and provide a glimpse into the exciting future of the automotive industry. This electric series will add a new dynamic that will never replace the current formula, but will be an important part of our expansion.”

Having just wrapped up its sixth season, Red Bull GRC has consistently been responsible for major announcements that have accelerated the growth of the sport of rallycross. The Supercar class now features four manufacturer partners: Ford, Subaru, Honda, and Volkswagen. In 2015, Red Bull GRC also became the first racing series to compete on an active United States military installation.

Further details on Red Bull GRC’s upcoming electric class will be released in the coming year.

Indian GP circuit rules out F1 return in near future

NOIDA, INDIA - OCTOBER 27:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing leads the field into the first corner at the start of the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit on October 27, 2013 in Noida, India.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Formula 1 will not return to the Buddh International Circuit in India in the near future but remains a long-term ambition of track chief Sameet Gaur.

F1 first visited India in 2011, racing at the purpose-built Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi.

The track hosted its last grand prix in 2013 (pictured) when Sebastian Vettel won his fourth drivers’ championship before falling off the calendar due to financial difficulties.

The group that owns the track, Jaypee Sports International, is known to be struggling with mounting debts, prompting suggestions that it could sell the track.

However, Gaur insisted in an interview with PTI that this was not a consideration, despite there being no short-term plans to bring F1 back.

“Yes, we are not thinking of hosting any big race including F1 in the near future because of reasons well known,” Gaur said.

“But it doesn’t mean we are open to selling the circuit. The thought has not even crossed our mind.

“Maintaining a big facility like BIC is surely tough, but we have been able to do that well despite the constraints.”

In the long-term, Gaur said he would like to see F1 return to the Buddh International Circuit as well as other premier series.

“We built such a huge circuit to host big events like F1,” Gaur said.

“Yes, under the circumstances, it is not at all our focus but when the situation improves, we will surely think about making better use of the track.”

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said last year that he would do “whatever is needed” to take F1 back to India, but for now, such aspirations must be cooled.

F1 drivers want greater challenges, not risks, when racing

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 21:  Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo follows, Jenson Button of Great Britain driving the (22) McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team McLaren MP4-31 Honda RA616H Hybrid turbo, Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team McLaren MP4-31 Honda RA616H Hybrid turbo and Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 21, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Three Formula 1 drivers have responded to Bernie Ecclestone’s suggestion that more walls should be built on tracks by saying they want greater challenges, not risks, when racing.

In an interview with the British press in Austin, Texas last weekend, F1 CEO Ecclestone expressed his frustration that drivers were now able to get away with errors on-track due to the vast amount of run-off areas implemented on safety grounds.

Ecclestone suggested that 40cm walls should be built around tracks to stop drivers abusing track limits and punish errors.

When asked about the idea in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, world championship leader Nico Rosberg said the sport had bigger concerns to focus on.

“Well, my opinion is that there are ten other areas which we should look at before,” Rosberg said.

“If we want to make the sport even better than it is before we start looking at turning back time on safety. That would be my view on that.”

Force India’s Sergio Perez echoed Rosberg’s thoughts, while adding that more gravel traps on circuits would make mistakes more costly to drivers.

“I certainly agree with Nico. There are so many more areas where we can improve the sport before starting to put safety at risk,” Perez said.

“I think we can definitely make the circuits a bit more challenging for the drivers, not necessarily with walls but making the driver pay for mistakes.

“If you go off, having a gravel trap and losing time, that kind of thing I think is good for the sport because that forces the drivers not to make any mistakes.”

Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. spoke about the vast amount of run-off offered at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico, where this weekend’s race will take place.

“For me, obviously safety comes first but also challenges for drivers,” Sainz said.

“I just did a track walk this morning and you know when you see so much tarmac run-off where you can go wide like in Austin, it’s good for safety but I’m convinced we could use some devices to make it a bit more challenging, to make sure you use a bit more of the track.

“At least you pay something, you don’t gain an advantage. At the moment it’s too risky for us to just miss the braking point a bit, nothing happens, continue and you don’t even lock up the tires.”