FIA makes minor alteration to qualifying format in Abu Dhabi

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ABU DHABI – The FIA has confirmed that it has made a minor change to the qualifying format for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to account for the absence of Marussia and the return of Caterham.

When the full field of 22 cars was racing earlier this year, six cars dropped out in both Q1 and Q2 to leave ten cars to fight it out in the final Q3 session.

However, the grid dropped to 18 in Austin for the United States Grand Prix when Caterham and Marussia both withdrew due to financial problems, having entered administration.

As a result, the FIA tweaked the format so that four cars would be eliminated in the first two sessions to once again leave the normal top ten shootout for pole position. This was also used for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

For this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi, Caterham has made a shock return after finding fresh investment, thus lifting the numbers back up to 20 again.

Predictably, the FIA has reacted by confirming that five drivers will drop out in Q1 and Q2, following the precedent set by the change for Austin.

The statement from the race stewards as follows:

“In view of the non-participation of one team in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the stewards have been requested to clarify the format for qualifying practice.

“Accordingly, under the authority granted to the stewards in article 11.9 of the International Sporting Code, and having regard to the principles established in the F1 Sporting Regulations article 33.1, consistent with the decision at the 2014 United States Grand prix, the stewards decide that the slowest five cars in Q1 will be prohibited from taking any further part in the session, and the slowest five cars in Q2 will likewise be prohibited from taking any further part in the session.”

You can watch qualifying for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live on NBCSN from 8a ET on Saturday.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).