GP2 champion Leimer keen on F1 seat

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GP2 Series champion Fabio Leimer has said that he would like to secure a seat in Formula One next season after his success in 2013, but the Swiss driver is aware that this may prove to be difficult due to the climate of the driver market.

Leimer was crowed champion of F1’s direct feeder series in Abu Dhabi last weekend, edging out Mercedes reserve driver Sam Bird by twenty points in the final standings. However, despite six of the previous eight GP2 champions going on to find a seat in F1, Leimer has acknowledged that he may face an uphill struggle to follow the example set.

“I hope I can go to Formula One,” Leimer said. “It will be hard, for sure, because there are not many seats free, but I hope I can go to Formula One, and for me it is important to win this championship to help me.

“Now we have to work and push to go up there: of course it would be fantastic to be a race driver or even a third driver, but we will have to work hard and then we’ll see.”

Leimer follows in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado by winning the championship, but the driver market has changed drastically in the past few years. Now, a drivers financial backing can be just as important as their on-track talent, meaning that many have missed out on seats in the past.

2012 champion Davide Valsecchi has not raced in 2013, instead working as Lotus’ reserve driver, acting as proof of how winning F1’s supposed ‘feeder series’ does not guarantee a drive in the future. GP2’s direct competitor – Formula Renault 3.5 – has spurned F1 drivers such as Jules Bianchi and even Sebastian Vettel. However, 2012 champion Robin Frijns is currently not racing due to a lack of budget, and this year’s winner Kevin Magnussen is in the process of finding a seat in F1. All eyes will be on these youngsters to see if they can fill out the remaining seats and secure a drive in 2014.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III