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Midfield seizes its chance in Spanish GP from fourth on back

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The retirements of Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen from Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix opened the door for nearly all of Formula 1’s midfield to break into the points. Most teams seriously nailed their opportunity.

At the front of the field, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) had their own scrap, and were ultimately separate by just 3.4 seconds at the checkered flag. In third, Daniel Ricciardo picked up the final podium position for Red Bull, albeit more than one minute behind.

But from fourth on back, the midfield teams starred as five of the seven remaining teams made the top 10 and scored points, in Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso, Sauber and Haas.  Force India and Toro Rosso were the only teams today that got both cars in the points.

McLaren didn’t get either of its cars in the points, although Fernando Alonso had what was, from his standpoint, his best race of the season and finishing in 12th. Williams’ Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, meanwhile, had a miserable day, ending 13th and 16th.

The enthusiasm for Force India might be stunted as the team was called to the stewards post-race for a possible compliance issue with the new regulations regarding the new bigger numbers that were implemented this weekend.

Alas, it’ll be easier to have nearly each driver from fourth on back on the road recap their days, as most spoke to NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race.

4th, Sergio Perez, Force India (15th straight points finish)

“It has been a fantastic weekend for me. It hasn’t been easy. We brought some parts at the beginning of the weekend. (With) the setup of our car under those conditions, you never know what’s working and what’s not. We made sure we got safely through Turn 1, did an incredible couple of stints. Scoring 15 straight is incredible for the team.”

5th, Esteban Ocon, Force India (fifth straight points finish, best of career)

“This is what you work so hard for. I’m so happy with the result of the day. A fantastic weekend overall. We maximized the results all the time. The team is not doing anything wrong. It’s all great, and I’m so pleased with that.

“We are not the richest team on the grid but we keep up the progression. We’re always there, and we’re always going to be there.

“I think from last year, I was not expecting to be this fast at the beginning .We weren’t there in testing but we are improving all the time. We can be a real P4 in the championship easily.”

6th, Nico Hulkenberg, Renault (third straight points finish, best of season)

No quotes, but this tweet will work.

7th, Carlos Sainz Jr., Toro Rosso (equal best finish of season)

“It was good. It was a bit chaotic at the start as you saw. We gained a couple of positions. We were P9 and from there it was full on attack to try to recover. We got to P7 from P12 (on the grid), so it was good.

“As you saw, I was pushing the whole time. Pit lane, Turn 1, Turn 5 it was a great battle (with Kevin Magnussen). It was a very complete weekend; it was a lot of positives and a good P7 in the end.

“I think we saw today a race in Barcelona that people are not used to seeing in Barcelona. Usually you start and people disappear into the distance. We put on a good show. I looked at the crowd and they were pumped up. We had a good race.”

8th, Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber (best career finish; seventh on road with 5-second time penalty)

“I thought that’s the perfect strategy for today. We couldn’t two-stop. We committed to a one-stop, that was the only thing we could do… or it was no points we could get from this race. That was the risk, and it paid off.

“The first stint was really difficult. I did one stint on the soft tire. Same amount of laps. That was the most difficult part. Sainz put a lot of pressure, but I managed to put him behind me. With the five second penalty I lost that one, but I was ahead of the rest of them.

“I think I showed in Bahrain, I’m back. This race was better than any race this year. It’s nice to see my back is fine. I’m performing at a very high level. The health and fitness is back.

“It’s nice to me. It was hard to watch the other guy (Antonio Giovinazzi) driving and not be able to drive. The team suffered a lot, but I suffered even more.”

9th, Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso (went from last row of grid to ninth)

“This feels great. I’m proud of myself and my team. We pushed hard. We got it right today. I want to bring the qualifying from first three races back to me; that was my strong point. I did every lap like a qualifying one today. It was completely OK. I wasn’t struggling. I gave my all.”

10th, Romain Grosjean, Haas (inherited point after puncture cost teammate)

“All the guys spun in front of me and I lost a number of positions. We got straight into traffic. I was planning to go much longer, but we got the (virtual) safety car (virtual). The car wasn’t as good as I wanted on the medium. Hopefully we can get better.

“This is two races in a row I’m struggling with the car. I didn’t do any long run with the updates on Friday. We need to make it better for Monaco.”

OUTSIDE THE POINTS

12th, Fernando Alonso, McLaren (started seventh, first finish of the year)

“It has been a good weekend in general. A positive. At the moment we finished the race. Hopefully this is a first step forward on reliability. There was not the pace to be in the points

“At end of the day we had too much tire difference. For passing, I was with new softs, and Williams on old mediums.”

14th, Kevin Magnussen, Haas (spirited battle with Sainz; tire puncture after Kvyat contact)

“That one is annoying. We could have had points on both cars. There was some contact. I had a puncture from the contact. I gave it everything I had. If we had finished in the points it would have been a good finish, but we couldn’t do it.”

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…