Could Cosworth be close to Indy engine return? We’ll know shortly

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As the Verizon IndyCar Series heads for its final event of the season this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., engine reliability is likely to be a big topic.

The 500-mile season finale was a war of attrition a year ago as Chevrolets and Hondas went left and right, primarily due to the heat and radiator clogging that took place.

A third engine manufacturer could well be joining the fray soon and have its own chance to win on reliability itself.

MotorSportsTalk was first to report earlier this year that Cosworth is actively seeking a return to IndyCar by attempting to partner with an OEM, as part of the company’s growth plan and strategic development.

Per an update from the company’s CEO Hal Reisiger in a conversation last week, we’ll know within 30-60 days whether the company’s intentions can become a reality.

“We have had discussions take place with two OEMs, and we are obviously very committed to it,” Reisiger told MotorSportsTalk. “A number of the OEMS with new management and sponsors of IndyCar have been watching the positive changes to determine their level of interest.

“We’re hopeful that within the coming weeks, we can take it to the next level.”

Reisiger said Cosworth, which still maintains a regular presence in IndyCar from an electronics standpoint and also premiered the “Cosworth Live on Air” program earlier this season, would seek to align with an OEM to allow for technology transfer between both production cars and race cars. Cosworth is amping up its presence on production cars as we speak.

Regarding aero kits, which are set to be introduced this offseason and then make their race debut once the North American portion of the 2015 season premieres, Reisiger said Cosworth has partners who could work with them to make that happen.

“We have partners we could work with we’ve already lined up, which is something we have to take into account,” he said. “We have two pre-selected partners for the aero kits who could support our efforts immediately.”

Perhaps the biggest piece of Cosworth news that is immediately coming down the pipeline, beyond the potential IndyCar engine involvement, is the development of a performance data recorder for the model year 2015 Corvette.

“It goes to our strategy of bringing motorsports inspired technology going to road cars,” Reisiger explained. “It’s basically data acquisition and telemetry that originates in our motorsport programs, and so we will have a data recorder for model year ’15 Corvette. We are at the start of regular production for that. That’s a big event for us.”

There’s more coming, it seems, for Cosworth on the automotive side of affairs. So the company’s continuing growth and development continues. The only question is whether that growth and development includes being the long-awaited third manufacturer in IndyCar.

Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.