British GP Paddock Notebook – Thursday

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If I were to say to you “name five classic circuits in F1”, you’d probably say Spa, Monza, Suzuka, Monaco and Silverstone. Therefore, when it comes to one of these grands prix, it is always a special event.

This weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone is set to be a thrilling one as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton go head-to-head. Rosberg may have the championship lead, but can Lewis make home advantage count this weekend?

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

Thursday is media day in Formula 1, so we got a chance to speak with the drivers and get their thoughts on a number of topics.

  • Valtteri Bottas spoke to NBC Sports yesterday about Kimi Raikkonen’s motivation and the possible loss of Monza from Formula 1.
  • The MotorSportsTalk writing team made its predictions ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
  • Esteban Gutierrez was honest about Sauber’s chances in 2014, saying “it cannot get much worse”.
  • Ferrari announced that Haas Automation – owned by Gene Haas – has joined the team as a sponsor, thus opening the door for a technical partnership between the two upon Haas Formula’s entry to F1 in 2016.
  • Former Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul has returned to Renault.
  • We preview this weekend’s race, looking at the main talking points for the weekend.
  • Jenson Button has revealed the helmet he will be wearing for this weekend’s race.

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

Silverstone usually marks the first race where people begin to look forward to the next season. Most notably, the older drivers on the grid – Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen – are both coming under scrutiny. Quite whether both will be in F1 next season is unclear, but Kimi has suggested that 2015 will be his last before quitting… again.

So maybe it’s better that we look at the younger drivers. Esteban Gutierrez has had a miserable season so far, yet he was surprisingly upbeat during his media session. He was very honest about the car, joking that the best part was how strong it was when he crashed. Adrian Sutil was also in good spirits, but both were quick to say how great a loss Monza would be to Formula 1 should Bernie Ecclestone’s threat turn into a reality.

We also had the chance to speak to American youngster Conor Daly this morning. The GP2 driver spoke widely about his fight to keep racing, his hopes for the future and the possibility of an IndyCar drive in the future. We will be bringing you the full interview soon on MotorSportsTalk.

This afternoon, we sat down with Sergio Perez for a chat about his career and current place at Force India. After such a rough ride in 2013, it is great to see a young driver back fighting at the front and impressing many within F1. You can read it later today on MST.

Finally, FIA race director Charlie Whiting spoke to the media this evening about the changes made for 2014 and the recent decisions taken by the World Motor Sport Council. Unsurprisingly, standing starts, double points and the engine noise came up, but he did reveal that many of the changes that have been deemed unpopular were suggested and supported wholeheartedly by the teams.

Tomorrow will see the drivers take to the track for free practice one and two. To find out how to watch these sessions live with NBC Sports, click here.

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