Starting grid for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix

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Come rain or shine, Mercedes remains the team to beat in 2014 after Lewis Hamilton scored his 34th career pole position yesterday in a wet qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

The British driver managed to tame the tricky conditions brilliantly on Saturday to finish six-tenths of a second clear of nearest rival Daniel Ricciardo. With this result, Hamilton broke the record for pole positions by a British driver in Formula 1, moving clear of two-time world champion Jim Clark and into fourth place on the all-time list.

However, it was not all good news for Mercedes as Nico Rosberg made two uncharacteristic errors in Q3 to cost himself a shot at making the front row. The German driver was forced to settle for fourth place on the grid, and he was far from pleased on Saturday afternoon. The Silver Arrows were split by both Red Bulls as Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel qualified second and third respectively.

Fernando Alonso will line up behind Rosberg on the grid alongside former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa. Williams has finally found the solution to its wet weather woes, with Valtteri Bottas also making the top ten. The Finn will start behind Massa in seventh.

The big casualties of Q2 were Kimi Raikkonen (11th), Jenson Button (12th) and Kevin Magnussen (15th), whilst Bahrain podium finisher Sergio Perez could only finish in 16th. It was clear that the wet conditions shook up the pecking order and gave more than a few drivers a headache.

FROM THE STEWARDS’ OFFICE

  • Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado was due to serve a five place grid penalty after flipping Esteban Gutierrez during the Bahrain Grand Prix two weeks ago. However, he failed to set a time in qualifying due to an engine problem suffered during FP3 on Saturday morning.
  • Therefore, the stewards had to grant permission to Maldonado to race as he technically failed to make the 107% time required to qualify. However, he did complete a lap that was well within this time during first practice on Friday. He will therefore be allowed to start the race from last position.

2014 CHINESE GRAND PRIX STARTING GRID

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6. Felipe Massa Williams
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus
11. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
12. Jenson Button McLaren
13. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
14. Adrian Sutil Sauber
15. Kevin Magnussen McLaren
16. Sergio Perez Force India
17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
18. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia
20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham
21. Max Chilton Marussia
22. Pastor Maldonado Lotus

You can watch the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30am ET.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”