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Antonio Felix da Costa ‘unlikely’ to make Super Formula move

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Andretti Formula E driver Antonio Felix da Costa says a move into the Japanese Super Formula series for 2017 is looking unlikely despite talks being held.

Da Costa balances his Andretti Formula E commitments with a role at BMW, having previously raced for the German marque’s DTM team.

Reports last month linked da Costa with a move into Super Formula for 2017, the series being a favorite for many drivers including McLaren Formula 1 racer Stoffel Vandoorne and endurance star Andre Lotterer.

Despite being subject to approaches from multiple teams and having a strong interest in the series himself, da Costa said that a move for 2017 is now looking unlikely.

“Things started in Macau actually before the final race on Saturday night, a couple of talks started to come up,” da Costa told NBC Sports.

“Basically Honda and Toyota, they found out they were both interested in myself. That kind of projected things a bit which was great, and I ended up winning on Sunday which helped me in that market.

“Again, it’s a really quick car with a lot of good drivers and nice tracks, a very good culture that I would like to try.

“But at the end of the day, it’s just getting in a really quick car and driving fast cars on fast laps. It’s a little bit more unlikely now if I’m honest.”

Were da Costa to race in Super Formula full-time this year, it would have to be with the Toyota-backed Sunoco Team LeMans as all other seats are taken.

“I think they’re exploring their options. They’re keeping me in the loop and we’re staying in contact,” da Costa said.

“But if I’m honest it’s a little bit unlikely.”

Even without Super Formula, da Costa is poised to enjoy a busy 2017, having recently been named as one of BMW’s development drivers for its new GTE car that will race in the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

“We’re going to go testing very soon. That’s an exciting thing, being on a new project and starting from zero,” da Costa said.

“You get to decide where you want the seat, where you want the buttons, where you want the screens.

“And that’s really cool for me at 25 to be with a manufacturer that is known all over the world and involved in something like that.

“So I’ll be busy, that’s for sure.”

INDYCAR announces several rules and protocol changes for 2018 season

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The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series opener is still more than six weeks away (March 11, St. Petersburg, Florida).

But several rules and protocol changes that will impact much of the 17-race season were announced today by INDYCAR officials.

First is related to Indianapolis 500 qualifying on May 19-20, one week prior to the 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing:

* Driver and entrant points will be awarded to the top nine qualifiers for the race. The pole winner earns nine points and the second-fastest qualifier eight points, with awarded points decreasing by one point for each position down to one point earned by the ninth-fastest qualifier.

* Race points for the Indianapolis 500 and the 2018 season-ending Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 16, will still pay double the normal points for driver and entrant.

There are several other changes on tap for the season, as well.

Here’s a quick rundown of those changes (information courtesy of INDYCAR):

  • The qualifying order for all oval track events except the Indianapolis 500 will be determined by entrant points entering the event. The qualifying order will run in reverse order of entrant points, with the highest in entrant points qualifying last. A car without entrant points will be placed at the front of the qualifying line. If more than one car has no entrant points entering an event, a blind draw among those cars will determine their qualifying order at the front of the line. The qualifying order for the Indianapolis 500 will still be determined by a blind draw.
  • Times have been set for the series-wide open test at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix Raceway), scheduled for Feb. 9-10. The track will be open to all cars from 3-6 p.m. and 8-11 p.m. ET both days. INDYCAR has also added four hours of track time on Feb. 8 (3-7 p.m. ET) for rookie drivers to complete their oval test assessments.
  • The series-wide open test at Portland International Raceway will be held Aug. 30, a day prior to the beginning of the Grand Prix of Portland race weekend. Indy car racing returns to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 11 years in 2018.
  • A schedule change for the month of May will see the INDYCAR garages closed on May 13 – the day after the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – to allow teams time off for Mother’s Day. The track will not be open to the public on this day. The garages will be open on May 14, but there will be no on-track activity.
  • Practice for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 begins Tuesday, May 15 on the IMS oval, with the first two hours open for rookie orientation and veteran refreshers, then to all cars. Practice continues May 16-18, ahead of qualifications weekend May 19-20.
  • INDYCAR is granting teams that did not participate in fall manufacturer testing with the universal aero kit an additional half day of private testing. The testing is limited to one car per team and must take place in conjunction with the team’s first on-track test of 2018. Each team is permitted five hours of track time and two sets of Firestone tires.
  • Working with Firestone, INDYCAR has increased the tire allotment at five events. The race weekends at ISM Raceway (Phoenix), the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Texas Motor Speedway, the streets of Toronto and Iowa Speedway will see teams receive an additional set of tires. In a related change, drivers outside the top 10 in the point standings will no longer have an extra set of tires available to them for the opening practice session of a race weekend.
  • The minimum car weight for 2018 has been increased by 10 pounds – to 1,620 pounds for road and street courses and short ovals, 1,590 pounds for superspeedways (both do not include fuel, drink bottle and its contents, driver and driver equivalency weight) – to accommodate for new parts and additional on-car cameras related to the universal aero kit all competitors will run in 2018.