Toro Rosso confirms Carlos Sainz Jr. for 2015 F1 season

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Scuderia Toro Rosso has confirmed that Carlos Sainz Jr. will be racing for the team next season alongside Max Verstappen, forming an all-rookie line-up for 2015.

Sainz won this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship in emphatic fashion, following in Kevin Magnussen’s footsteps by winning the title ahead of fellow Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly.

The Spaniard had originally missed out on a seat with Toro Rosso when the team confirmed that Verstappen would be racing for the team alongside current driver Daniil Kvyat.

However, when Sebastian Vettel announced that he would be leaving Red Bull at the end of the season, Kvyat was promoted as the German’s replacement, opening up a slot at Toro Rosso.

This opened up a four-way fight for the seat alongside Verstappen between would-be rookies Sainz, Gasly and GP3 champion Alex Lynn, or the option of retaining Jean-Eric Vergne for a third season.

Vergne was the favored option for Verstappen, who was keen on an experienced driver to help with his development in his debut season.

Nevertheless, in-keeping with its policy of pairing two rookie drivers together at Toro Rosso, Red Bull confirmed today that Sainz would be racing alongside Verstappen next year.

“I am really happy to have landed the drive with Scuderia Toro Rosso,” Sainz said. “Ever since I have been part of Red Bull’s Young Driver Programme, this has been my aim and I want to thank Red Bull for putting their faith in me.

“I have had a very successful season in World Series by Renault this year and now I am looking forward to taking the step up to Formula 1. I tested for a day with Toro Rosso last year and I liked the atmosphere in the team.

“In the next few months I will be working hard on my preparation, ready to get in the cockpit in Jerez for the first test of next year. It will be nice to make my “official” debut as a Formula 1 driver in my home country!”

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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