Alonso hoping to mix things up in Russia

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Fernando Alonso is pinning his hopes of a good result in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix on “mixing it up” after a difficult qualifying session in Sochi.

The Spanish driver could only finish eighth in the final session on Saturday, one place ahead of Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen as the Italian team struggled to keep up with the Mercedes-powered cars ahead.

“Today’s qualifying was more difficult than usual,” Alonso admitted. “At least more complicated compared to the last two race weekends, when we had been able to fight with the front-runners.

“So far here, we have not been competitive, even though the car seems okay and on the setup front, we’ve changed almost nothing. We can’t single out any particular bad point because we are losing in all the sectors.

“The truth is just that the cars ahead of us were quicker.”

Alonso believes that an array of variable factors in tomorrow’s race could play in his favor, with a one-stop race on the cards at a track where track evolution has been constant.

“Here, the grip seems to improve with every lap and on top of that, reducing the pit lane speed to 60 km/h all points to a one-stop strategy,” he said.

“Even if the safety car could mix things up a bit, I think tomorrow, the start and the first corner could define the outcome of the race, and so we must prepare to tackle the early stages as well as possible.”

Alonso looks set to leave Ferrari at the end of the year to make way for Sebastian Vettel, but he will still be giving it his all in the final four races for the Italian marque as it continues to fight for third place in the constructors’ championship.

You can watch the Russian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET tomorrow.

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.