Simon Pagenaud confirmed at Team Penske in fourth IndyCar

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The first domino of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season has officially fallen.

Indeed Simon Pagenaud is making the move from Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports, to the reigning championship team.

Pagenaud is driving for Team Penske, in a new fourth car for Roger Penske’s operation. The team announced the news on Monday afternoon.

“Simon Pagenaud is a very talented, focused and determined driver,” Roger Penske said in a release. “We know how tough he has been to compete with over the last few seasons and we are very happy to welcome him to Team Penske starting in 2015. With Simon coming on board to join Will, Helio (Castroneves) and Juan (Montoya), we feel we have four drivers very capable of winning on any given weekend and four guys who are legitimate championship contenders.”

This puts him alongside champion and longtime nemesis Will Power for the second time in his career. The two were teammates when driving for Derrick Walker in the 2007 Champ Car season.

For Pagenaud, it’s a multiyear deal as he moves into IndyCar’s most successful team.

“Getting a chance to race for Team Penske is almost like a dream to me,” said Pagenaud. “I have always admired the team and everything that Roger Penske has accomplished in racing. I am so excited to become a part of Team Penske and I can’t wait for the 2015 season to start.”

No commercial partners or car numbers were named.

Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya are also set to return to the team.

For SPM, filling Pagenaud’s seat is not going to be an easy task. James Hinchcliffe and/or Justin Wilson could be available, and the team is also testing a number of young drivers this offseason.

F1: Lewis Hamilton qualifies No. 1 for U.S. Grand Prix, on verge of winning 5th title

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Lewis Hamilton took a big step toward earning his fifth Formula One championship on Saturday, qualifying No. 1 for Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Hamilton and his Mercedes have won five of the previous six U.S. Grand Prix’s held at COTA, including the last four races there.

The Great Britain native comes into Sunday’s race leading the F1 point standings and is seeking to tie Juan Manuel Fangio for second-most F1 career championships. Michael Schumacher has the most with seven crowns.

Sebastian Vettel is Hamilton’s sole remaining challenger for the title, trailing Hamilton by 67 points with four races to go, including Sunday’s race.

Vettel must win Sunday’s race or finish within seven points of Hamilton to prevent the latter from winning the title and pushing a possible clinching scenario to next week in Mexico.

Vettel qualified second Saturday, but due to a red-flag three-position grid penalty sustained during Friday’s morning practice, will start fifth on Sunday’s grid.

As a result of Vettel’s penalty, Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside Hamilton on the front row for Sunday’s race.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Vallteri Bottas, will start third, while Daniel Ricciardo will start fourth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

Here’s how qualifying played out:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:34.130 1:33.480 1:32.237 20
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:34.569 1:33.079 1:32.298 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:34.703 1:32.884 1:32.307 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:34.518 1:33.702 1:32.616 17
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.755 1:34.185 1:33.494 14
6 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:34.876 1:34.522 1:34.145 18
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:34.932 1:34.564 1:34.215 18
8 8 RomainGrosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:34.892 1:34.419 1:34.250 17
9 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.069 1:34.255 1:34.420 17
10 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:35.193 1:34.525 1:34.594 17
11 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:34.891 1:34.566 12
12 20 KevinMagnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:34.972 1:34.732 12
13 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:34.850 DNS 13
14 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:35.206 DNS 13
15 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.766 4
16 14 FernandoAlonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.294 6
17 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.362 6
18 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.480 8
19 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.536 8
20 2 StoffelVandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.735 6

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