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Long Beach heartache for Andretti Autosport

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The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was setting up very nicely for Andretti Autosport. Although Takuma Sato struggled in qualifying, teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi made the Firestone Fast Six. Marco Andretti, too, excelled in qualifying, taking the tenth spot and the grid.

Race day started off well, too. Hunter-Reay and Rossi rocketed around pole sitter Helio Castroneves off the start to run in the top five, and they ran in top three for much of the race, only dropping back during pit stop sequences.

But, the day unraveled from there for the entire team. First, Marco Andretti slowed on lap 17 and pulled off the circuit due to a sensor failure. Then, it was Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi slowing with less than 30 laps to go, both with engine issues. Then, it was Ryan Hunter-Reay’s turn, with his car coming to halt as he closed in on leader James Hinchcliffe in the final laps. Hunter-Reay problems appeared to be electrical as he said the car eventually restarted, but he never rejoined the fight.

While optimism is still high, there is disappointment that they couldn’t capitalize on their potential, as Hunter-Reay explained. “It really hurts when it’s that close to the end and I was closing on (Hinchcliffe); we were going to have a good showdown there at the end,” he said of his issues. “That’s why this sport can be so rewarding and so cruel, there’s nothing you can do. Frustrating for sure but today it was out of our hands.”

Similarly, Rossi lamented a lost opportunity to fight for the win. “I thought we had a really good shot at winning. The pace of the car was really good all day and we were able to recover from a little bit of a tricky pit stop sequence on the first stop, so it’s unfortunate because the NAPA Auto Parts car was awesome. We’ll just have to fight back at Barber. Honda has done an amazing job so it’s unfortunate,” said last year’s Indy 500 winner.

The team’s struggles saw Hunter-Reay fall to eighth in the championship, just ahead of both Sato and Andretti, who sit ninth and tenth, while Rossi sits 19th.

 

Following Kyle Lavigne.

Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.