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Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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Alonso to Le Mans With Toyota

A long-standing rumor was confirmed earlier this week, as Toyota Gazoo Racing announced that two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso would be joining the team for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as several other rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship during the 2018-2019 “super season.” This comes after months of speculation about Alonso contesting this year’s Le Mans, highlighted by a test with Toyota back in November.

“I’ve never been shy about my aim of winning motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ – the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Alonso said during the announcement. “We tried for Indy last year, came close, but just missed out. This year, I have the chance – thanks to McLaren – to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge – much can go wrong – but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight.”

Alonso’s place within the team does come at the expense of one of its incumbent drivers. Anthony Davidson, who has been with Toyota since they returned to sports car racing and Le Mans in 2012, has been relegated to a reserve role to make room with Alonso.

F1 Parts With Grid Girls

In a move that garnered great controversy and debate, Formula 1 and Liberty Media have revealed that Grid Girls will no longer be a part of Formula 1 events.

Officials cited brand values and societal norms as reasons behind the change.

“We feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms,” said Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations. “We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula One and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

The move has been polarizing among fans and those within the F1 community, including those who previously worked events as Grid Girls.

The move also comes one year after the ABB FIA Formula E Championship stopped using Grid Girls, instead opting to focus on “Grid Kids,” young fans or aspiring young drivers chosen to take part in the event and stand on the grid next to the drivers and teams.

Small Tweaks to F1 Race Start Times

Formula 1 officials revealed that they are making small changes to the start times of all Formula 1 races, beginning in 2018. All races will now start at ten minutes passed the hour, and the European and Brazilian races have been pushed back an hour to 3:10 p.m. local time.

Officials revealed that television audience was the main reason for the changes, citing efforts to attract a more viewers.

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NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.