Hamilton inches away from Rosberg to top FP2 at COTA

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Lewis Hamilton has continued his good form during practice for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix by finishing fastest once again in FP2 on Friday afternoon in Austin.

The British driver edged out teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg by just 0.003 seconds at the top of the timesheets to double up after finishing quickest in FP1 in the morning session.

The gap at the top equates to just 6.7 inches across the course of a lap at the Circuit of The Americas, proving just how tight the margins are between both of our championship protagonists.

However, Hamilton’s session ultimately came to an early end due to a fuel leak, with Rosberg also complaining of a gearbox issue.

FP2 saw the drivers divide their time between shorter low-fuel runs and race simulations, and it was Rosberg who enjoyed the upper hand in the first runs on the prime tire.

However, Hamilton soon redressed the balance at the top of the timesheets by pulling out a quickest lap of 1:39.085 to finish marginally ahead of Rosberg come the checkered flag as both opted to focus on heavy fuel runs in the second half of the session.

Both Mercedes drivers reported problems with their gearboxes, but this should not impact the rest of their race weekend as the units can be replaced for tomorrow’s running at COTA without earning a sanction from the stewards. Hamilton was given the call to pit with 20 minutes remaining due to an issue on the car, and did not head back out on track.

Fernando Alonso continued to plug away in the troublesome Ferrari F14 T, finishing third ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa in the final standings.

After his teammate was forced to sit out most of the first session on Friday, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel came unstuck during FP2, finishing at the bottom of the timesheets after completing just 18 laps due to a gearbox issue. This setback came just hours after the FIA confirmed he will be forced to start the race in Austin from the pit lane due to an engine penalty.

Yet again, it was Hamilton who enjoyed the bragging rights in Austin on Friday, but with Rosberg for very close company, the Briton cannot rest on his laurels if he is to claim a fifth straight win this weekend and extend his world championship lead.

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Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.