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Oriol Servia’s usual RLL seat fit spiced up with Alonso to Indy fever

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One of the more mundane parts of getting ready for the Indianapolis 500 – making a seat fit – was more insightful than normal yesterday at the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing shop.

For upon Oriol Servia’s homecoming back to the team with which he’s driven three of his eight career Indy 500s (2009, 2014, 2015) and now prepares for his fourth at RLL and ninth overall this year, it was not just a chance to ask the Catalan about his own prospects this month but also recap the international amount of fever and attention that has come with his Spanish countryman, Fernando Alonso, racing this year’s event.

Servia was with Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, the head of INDYCAR’s parent company, on the European tour of promotion for the race in Madrid and Barcelona, and returned to the U.S. for his own preparations this week. He called the coverage “mind-blowing” with more than 280 pages of newspaper articles covering the race.

“The first day in Milan [Italy] was good but then we went to Barcelona and Madrid and it was insane. It got bigger and bigger and I didn’t expect so many people but it’s such a big deal that Fernando is coming to Indy,” Servia said, via NBCSN contributor Robin Miller for RACER.com.

“It was perfect timing because it coincided with his rookie test and I counted 287 pages of newspaper clippings about it.”

Per INDYCAR, Alonso’s one-day test, which made massive waves, also contributed to significant digital metrics.

The YouTube live stream, which generated more than 2 million times viewed, saw the U.K. first in region of consumption with #AlonsoRunsIndy trending in eight countries and #Indy500 also trending in eight. Interestingly, the #Indy500 trend was not in the continental U.S. but all international, in Spain, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Vietnam.

Servia will be set to make his 200th career start in IndyCar at Indianapolis, in a career that has dated to 2000 with more than one dozen teams. Tom German, who was the race-winning engineer with Alexander Rossi last year with Andretti-Herta Autosport and with Sam Hornish Jr. and Gil de Ferran prior to that at Team Penske, will be his engineer. He will also run the Detroit doubleheader the following week.

Fellow veteran Tony Kanaan, whose career in IndyCar dates to 1998 as he’s in his 20th season, also offered some friendly advice to Alonso with RTV’s Dave Furst in Indianapolis, about the items they don’t quite tell you about in the 24 hours leading up to the race start. That’s linked here.

Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean to launch cookbook

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Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean may be one of the sport’s most promising talents on-track, but he also has a burning passion off it: cooking.

Grosjean may have been spent a good part of this year cooking his brakes, but you’ll now be able to cook bakes instead…

F1’s resident foodie is set to release a cookbook alongside wife Marion Jolles in the coming weeks, as announced on his Facebook page.

Grosjean currently sits 13th in the F1 drivers’ championship with 18 points to his name, helping Haas to match the points total from its debut season after just 10 races in 2017.

Mercedes F1 engine chief warns against underestimating Honda

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Mercedes Formula 1 engine chief Andy Cowell has warned against underestimating the threat of Honda despite its ongoing power unit struggles, tipping the Japanese manufacturer to bounce back in the near future.

Honda returned to F1 as a manufacturer in 2015, supplying V6 turbo power units to the McLaren team, but has struggled for either performance or reliability through that period.

The struggles have led McLaren – currently sat bottom of the constructors’ championship – to consider cutting ties for 2018 given how far adrift compared to the other three engine suppliers Honda has been.

Mercedes has been the benchmark for engine performance since the change in regulation for 2014, but Cowell feels that Honda could make up ground quickly, with the removal of the token system for 2017 helping performance to converge through the field.

“I think collectively we’ve helped with convergence in Formula 1 in the opening season, performance development through the year,” Cowell said.

“But then the opportunity to do a big change with Honda coming in, we all agreed that Honda could have that same opportunity to change everything in the first year and then the request came from manufacturers in addition to Honda saying ‘please can we take this crazy token table away because it’s bad for the sport?’

“It’s bad if somebody can’t train to get better and so we agreed, yeah, take the table away because it’s better for the sport because it means that you can innovate, you can introduce whatever you like.

“I think none of us should underestimate the technical prowess of Honda and of McLaren and I think my money is on that combination coming good and coming good pretty quickly. No pressure…”

Williams happy to ‘hold off’ on 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams is happy to “hold off” on making a decision on its Formula 1 driver line-up for 2018 as it focuses on improving its on-track displays after a tough start to the season.

Williams currently fields Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, a mix of experience and youth, but has failed to keep up with midfield front-runner Force India through the first half of the year.

Force India sits fourth in the constructors’ championship with more than double the points of Williams, who leads a tight-knit group down to Renault in eighth place, 15 points adrift.

While Stroll looks set to continue with Williams and Massa has hinted he may look to continue through to 2018 despite initially planning to retire at the end of last season, deputy team boss Claire Williams has confirmed that no decision about next year’s line-up will come any time soon.

“There’s a lot of talk already isn’t there, about drivers across the paddock. For us, we’ve decided we’re going to hold off a bit on our driver decision,” Williams said.

“We’ve got a fight on our hands on the race track at the moment and to be distracted by those kinds of conversations isn’t something that we want to be happening at the moment.

“[Force India’s] got a nice points haul on us at the moment we need to focus on, rather than anything else.”

Nico Rosberg visits Stanford University, considering study options

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2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg is considering study options at Stanford University after visiting the college earlier this week as part of his tour around California.

Rosberg sensationally announced his retirement from F1 just five days after winning his maiden world title last November, wanting to spend more time with his young family.

The German has been enjoying his retirement, recently embarking on a tour of Silicon Valley and California that saw him hold meetings with electric car giant Tesla, among other companies.

In a video posted to his Twitter account on Sunday, Rosberg spoke warmly about a visit to Stanford, revealing that he is considering some study options in the near future at the historic institution.

Rosberg was previously offered a scholarship to study engineering at Imperial College London when he was younger, only to turn it down in order to embark on a racing career. He also reportedly holds the highest ever score on Williams’ engineering aptitude test.

Should Nico sign up to a course at Stanford, we imagine he’d take things one class at a time…