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Draft calendar of 2018 F1 schedule released

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At Monday’s World Motor Sport Council meeting, the first draft of the 2018 Formula 1 schedule was released, with a few notable tweaks.

The return of the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard slots in on June 24, and a week after the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 16-17.

What that race being added does is create a tentative tripleheader with the French, Austrian and British Grands Prix all in successive weeks, a first for F1.

Germany is also back as it’s not on this year’s calendar, scheduled for July 22 at Hockenheim.

Elsewhere Baku moves from its current June slot into the end of April (April 29), while the Russian Grand Prix moves back to September (Sept. 30) after two years in April as the first in a back-to-back with the Japanese Grand Prix.

With Malaysia out, the calendar is at 21 races.

The tentative calendar is below (*subject to commercial rights holder confirmation):

25 March Melbourne Australia
8 April Shanghai* China
15 April Sakhir Bahrain
29 April Baku Azerbaijan
13 May Barcelona Spain
27 May Monaco Monaco
10 June Montreal Canada
24 June Le Castellet France
1 July Spielberg Austria
8 July Silverstone Great Britain
22 July Hockenheim Germany
29 July Budapest Hungary
26 August Spa-Francorchamps Belgium
2 September Monza Italy
16 September Singapore* Singapore
30 September Sochi Russia
7 October Suzuka Japan
21 October Austin USA
28 October Mexico City Mexico
11 November Sao Paulo Brazil
25 November Yas Marina Abu Dhabi

 

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.