Alfa Romeo Sauber

Alfa Romeo Sauber confirms Leclerc, Ericsson for F1 2018

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The newly-rebranded Alfa Romeo Sauber Formula 1 team has confirmed Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc will step up to a full-time race seat for the 2018 season, partnering the retained Marcus Ericsson.

Sauber announced back in July it would be entering an expanded technical partnership with Ferrari from 2018, with the deal leading to a rebrand under the Alfa Romeo name, a brand also owned by the Fiat-Chrysler Alliance.

In a press conference held in Milan on Saturday, Sauber confirmed it would be retaining Ericsson for a fourth season alongside the incoming Leclerc, who replaces Mercedes-backed Pascal Wehrlein.

The team also unveiled its new white and red colors for the 2018 season via a concept livery, replacing the blue design it has raced with since 2015.

Having lost out to Ericsson in the race for the second Sauber seat alongside Leclerc, Ferrari youngster Antonio Giovinazzi has been appointed as the team’s third and reserve driver for the 2018 season.

Giovinazzi deputized for Pascal Wehrlein when injured for two races at the start of the year, taking a best finish of P12 on debut in Australia.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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