Kobayashi hits out at new F1 cars’ lack of pace

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We’ve chronicled Renault’s reliability issues thus far in Formula One testing. We haven’t done as much chronicling of the lack of pace, by comparison, given the fact teams aren’t in an outright pace push as yet while dialing in their new technologies.

Still, with the best Renault time at Bahrain more than five seconds off the pace of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes W05, it’s Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi has taken the chance to speak out about it.

“We are not in race conditions here, but if we were in race conditions I think I should bring a GP2 car,” he said to reporters in Bahrain this week, via Autosport. “”The lap time is still quicker in GP2. We need to work, but in this moment if we were to race, I think it’s not Formula One.”

Kobayashi later said he’s not interested in merely finishing races, but truly wanting to close the gap to the bigger teams in front of him.

The Japanese driver was “Mr. Excitement” in his first F1 stint from 2009 through 2012, and without saying as much, he’s essentially said he’ll need miracles to make more passes happen given the team’s current pace gap to the field.

Overall times from Bahrain weren’t terribly off last year’s pole at the head of the field. But the gap from first to last is significantly greater now than it has been at any point in the last five years with the most recent iteration of chassis and V8 engines.

Kobayashi wasn’t an out-and-out speed demon when at Toyota or Sauber, but he should have the early pace edge on rookie teammate Marcus Ericsson within the Caterham team at the start of the year.

Problem is, if they’re too far back, it will be hard for either of them to achieve a result worth talking about.

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