ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27:  Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP in parc ferme 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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Hamilton gutted, reflective after F1 title defeat: ‘You can’t win them all’

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Lewis Hamilton was in a reflective mood following his Formula 1 championship defeat in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, but his disappointment was impossible to hide on the podium.

Having entered the race weekend trailing Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 12 points in the drivers’ championship, Hamilton knew that victory may not be enough to capture a fourth crown.

In fact, he knew that mid-October when there were four races to go, such was Rosberg’s lead. Despite taking pole and victory in all four, he wouldn’t be world champion. Rosberg carried himself over the line with four straight second-place finishes.

Hamilton did all he could in the finale to shake Rosberg up, going against team orders by slowing the pack down, pushing his teammate into the clutches of the pack chasing behind. Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen threatened to pass, yet neither could make it through.

In the cool-down room after the race, the disappointment was written all over Hamilton’s face. Even on the podium, he struggled to celebrate with the same enthusiasm as he would a normal race victory. 10 wins, 12 poles – and no world title to show for it.

“Honestly I feel great,” Hamilton said on the podium, curling his lips into a smile that failed to hide his pain.

“There are so many British flags out there this weekend. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who came out to support us.

“Got to say thanks to my family for all their support and especially to the team for doing such a great job. It’s been a real privilege being part of this team. I never would have thought when I joined this team that I’d have this many wins.

“I think that’s 32 wins with this team, so a big thank you to everyone here and back at the factory.”

And just as podium interviewer David Coulthard began to turn away, Hamilton added: “And a big congratulations to Nico of course, his first world championship. Good job mate.”

The two shook hands and embraced, defusing the tension that had bubbled between them throughout the race – and indeed their three years together as teammates.

But Hamilton knew that had it not been for the series of engine failures he’s suffered this year, the world title could so easily have been his. He was left facing impossible odds with four races remaining, and did everything in his power to turn things around, only to fall just five points short.

“I did everything I could these last four races. That’s all I could really ask for,” Hamilton said.

“I’m gonna have a lot of fun tonight celebrating with the team and everyone. You can’t win them all.

“We had a lot of problems this year, that’s why I’m in this position.

“But I’m still grateful for all the success and ups and downs we’ve had as a team.”

And what of his antics with Rosberg in the final stint? Hamilton hid nothing when he talked to NBCSN after the race, saying he was doing all he could to help himself.

“Generally in the last stint, I tried to help myself. I wasn’t getting any help anywhere else,” Hamilton said.

“I didn’t put Nico or anyone else in harm’s way, I didn’t cause the team damage or anything like that. We still got a one-two.

“I think I did everything I could within fair reason.”

Two big debates will rage on following today’s championship finale.

Firstly, was Lewis Hamilton a more deserving champion than Rosberg?

And secondly, did Hamilton overstep the mark with his late-race pace?

The upshot of both is that, regardless, Hamilton’s reign as F1 world champion is over. He will head into 2017 as the underdog, having suffered just the second intra-team defeat of his F1 career (the other coming at the hands of Jenson Button in 2011).

Quite how Hamilton fights back next year may mark the beginning of a new chapter in his F1 career.

Butterball, Andretti Autosport extension is all gravy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 27:  Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #28 Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara, practices during Carb Day ahead of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Andretti Autosport and Butterball, a U.S.-based provider of turkey and poultry products, announced a new expansion of their partnership. The newly revamped agreement will see Butterball branding on all four Andretti Autosport entries in 2017.

“Butterball has been a great partner since 2014 and I’m really excited to have them on board again this year,” said Ryan Hunter-Reay. “They were with me when I won the Indianapolis 500 which was a really special moment for everyone involved. Hopefully we can bring them back into victory lane this year, not only at Indy, but throughout the season as well.”

The machines of Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi, and Takuma Sato will feature branding just below the front suspension components. Per the announcement, the placement has created a new nickname for the assembly: “the Butterball Wishbone.”

“Butterball is extremely excited about our sponsorship with Andretti Autosport in 2017,” said Butterball CEO and President Kerry Doughty. “With the addition of the new Butterball Wishbone Sponsorship on all Andretti Autosport Indy cars for the 2017 season, we are expanding the tremendously successful relationship that began with Michael and Ryan in 2014 when we won the Indianapolis 500 in our first season.”

Butterball’s tenure with Andretti Autosport dates back to May 2014, shortly before Ryan Hunter-Reay claimed victory at the Indianapolis 500. Branding has been featured on Hunter-Reay No. 28 entry ever since.

Newgarden completes busy day in Detroit

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Josef Newgarden’s media prowess and charisma was again in full display on Thursday during a series promotional efforts for June’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.

Specifically, Newgarden was in town for Detroit Grand Prix night at that night’s Pistons-Hornets NBA game.

The day began with Newgarden visiting a handful of Detroit news media outlets, where his most notable venture involved duking it out with Pistons mascot Hooper.

The day continued with Newgarden exploring more of the city, and getting in touch with its rock ‘n roll history.

That, Newgarden ventured to The Palace of Auburn Hills to the big promotional event of day, Detroit Grand Prix night. There, Newgarden was greeted with his own Detroit Pistons jersey and even tried a couple of half-court shots at halftime. However, he did not make any, making it less likely he’ll pursue a basketball career when he decides to hang up his helmet.

For an additional recap Detroit Grand Prix night, visit The Chevrolet’s Detroit Grand Prix twitter @detroitgp.

Entry lists revealed for MRTI Spring Training in Miami

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Kyle Kaiser in Miami, 2015. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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The first real good, if not final, looks at the season to come in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires come with next week’s Spring Training, which sees four total days of action at the Homestead-Miami Speedway for all three rungs of the ladder.

The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires will run February 27 on Homestead-Miami’s 1.5-mile oval and March 2 on the 2.21-mile road course. Meanwhile the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series will run solely on the road course over two back-to-back days, February 28 and March 1.

Indy Lights’ field seems closest to being finalized from this group, while Pro Mazda and USF2000 still have some gaps to fill.

In one other bit, Mazda will announce the teams of competition for its Soul Red-liveried drivers this year, all of whom won Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarships for their next step up this year. That’s why Aaron Telitz (Indy Lights), Anthony Martin (Pro Mazda) and Oliver Askew (USF2000) teams are listed as TBAs.

Anyway, quick notes:

Indy Lights (14 cars

All drivers on the Indy Lights entry list have been officially announced, and as noted, Telitz’s team is the only significant TBA of note. Car numbers are revealed for Zachary Claman De Melo and Matheus Leist at Carlin of 13 and 26 respectively, with the known in advance.

In terms of team breakdown, it’s four each at Carlin and Andretti Autosport (with Colton Herta’s No. 98 car an Andretti Steinbrenner Racing entry), Juncos Racing and Belardi Auto Racing each with two official cars and Team Pelfrey the lone one-car entry.

Of the 14 drivers, the field is split exactly in half between seven veterans and seven rookies.

Questions from here are whether one or two more cars not at this test will join the grid at St. Petersburg and push the number back up. Since the debut of the Dallara IL-15 Mazda in 2015, the St. Pete weekend has had 13 cars in 2015 and 16 cars last year, with this one falling in the middle.

Pro Mazda (6 cars)

In what’s very much a survive-and-advance season for Pro Mazda in the final year with its existing car, a small batch of cars come from Team Pelfrey, World Speed Motorsports and the team TBA for Anthony Martin for this test.

Within a 20-to-30-plus, multiple-class series of racing, six cars for one class wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. But six on their own for an independent series is certainly an issue. The number simply has to grow by St. Petersburg to at least eight at a bare minimum, the low-water mark last year, with 10 a significant step forward at this rate (the series had 12 cars at St. Petersburg last year).

USF2000 (22 cars)

Quite by contrast, the new Tatuus USF-17 premieres in USF2000 with 22 cars at this test and the potential of more cars by St. Petersburg (the series had 26 starters last year with two additional withdrawals).

Six returning drivers join 12 rookies and four TBAs on this list, all split among 10 teams. Dutch driver Rinus VeeKay, initially announced as driving for Benik in 2017, is listed in a third Newman Wachs Racing entry for this test.

Juan Pablo Montoya samples Risi Ferrari in Sebring IMSA test

during practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 10, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.
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One of the best drivers of his generation, Juan Pablo Montoya’s recent run of sampling a diverse amount of machinery continues with his testing debut in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE at this week’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship test at Sebring International Raceway.

Initially reported by Sportscar365, Montoya received the guest drive opportunity from an old colleague of his when he raced F3000. Team manager Dave “Beaky” Sims planned to put Montoya in for a few laps this afternoon to give him his first proper running in a GTE-spec car.

Montoya, a race winner in Formula 1, IndyCar and NASCAR, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion and past CART and F3000 champion prior to that, got into the low 2:00 range in his handful of laps before turning the car back to Toni Vilander, who will share the car for the March 18 race with Giancarlo Fisichella and James Calado. Times are unofficial because this is a series test.

Montoya’s race plans this year are thus far limited to the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in a fifth Team Penske IndyCar. He won the individual portion of the Race of Champions in Miami last month. He’s been linked to the rumored (by RACER.com and others), if not yet official, Penske Daytona Prototype international (DPi) effort.

A couple social posts from the Colombian’s run are below, including from Vilander, IMSA Radio pit reporter Shea Adam and IMSA timing & scoring provider Al Kamel Systems. More info from this week’s test will follow soon.

@Regrann from @imsa_racing – Juan Pablo Montoya turns a few laps in @risicomp's 488. – #regrann

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