F1: Hamilton pleasantly surprised with Mercedes’ reliability in Jerez

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After their W05’s World Championship run in 2014, Mercedes’ new challenger, the W06, has a very tough act to follow in the 2015 Formula One season.

But during the last four days of F1 testing in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s new ride delivered particularly well in reliability.

As noted earlier today, both Mercedes men put in major mileage in Jerez. Rosberg logged 308 laps over his two days with the W06, while Hamilton logged 207 laps over his two days.

Hamilton, the reigning driver’s champion, turned in 117 laps on Wednesday and was third-quickest on the time sheets behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.

Wednesday wasn’t altogether smooth for Hamilton, who had a spin and also lost a small amount of track time in the afternoon due to a cooling problem. But at day’s end, he remarked that the Jerez test was a great one for the Silver Arrows.

“[Team technical director] Paddy [Lowe] just said it has been the highest week of mileage,” Hamilton told reporters in Jerez. “That’s a surprise for us all. Nico had good days with over 150 laps on each and I averaged 100 laps, so it’s great to see the work put in by all the guys in the garage.

“We’ve put some decent mileage on the car this week and although you always want more, the reliability has been pretty special.”

As for his perspective on the W06’s performance, Hamilton said driving the car feels much like driving the W05 that he won 11 races in last year. However, he would not determine just how strong it is yet.

“Every single time I’ve driven the car, it never feels good the first time because the car is at its worst – the tires are not good in the cold conditions here in Jerez,” Hamilton explained. “It never feels good the first time, that’s just how it is, but you know that’s the worst it’s going to be this year because it will get better throughout the year.

“Overall the car feels very, very similar to last year, so [it’s] very difficult to pick out any differences.”

But while Mercedes racked up the miles, neither Hamilton or Rosberg finished P1 in times throughout the Jerez sessions. Ferrari led three of the four days (Sebastian Vettel led Sunday and Monday’s testing), and Sauber led on Tuesday with Felipe Nasr.

Hamilton said he didn’t pay much attention to his competition, though.

“I’ve not really been looking to be honest,” he said. “I’ve just been focusing on doing my own thing. I’m sure they’re on different fuel loads to others, and they look like they’re doing shorter, more attacking runs – which we are not.”

Morris Nunn, former IndyCar and F1 engineer, team owner dies at 79

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Morris Nunn, a former Formula 1 team owner and a prominent fixture in the American Open Wheel Racing scene through the 1990s and the early 2000s, died at 79 on Wednesday after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Nunn’s career in racing spans both sides of the Atlantic. He started in the 1960s as a driver before shifting his attention toward the mechanical side of the sport. He then founded a Formula 1 effort, dubbed Ensign Racing, which competed in over 100 F1 races between 1973 and 1982 – the team had a best result of fourth.

However, Nunn may be best known in the U.S. for his exploits in American Open Wheel Racing. He crossed the pond after closing the Ensign outfit in 1982, and was a part of the Patrick Racing team that won the 1989 Indianapolis 500 with Emerson Fittipaldi.

He moved to Chip Ganassi Racing in the 1990s, where he perhaps achieved the bulk of his success. He worked with Alex Zanardi as both his crew chief and engineer during Zanardi’s tenure from 1996 to 1998, and the combination saw Zanardi take Rookie of the Year Honors in ’96, followed by a pair of championships in ’97 and ’98 in the old CART series.

31 May 1997: Alex Zanardi (left) of Italy talks to Mo Nunn , engineer for the Target Ganassi Racing Team, at The Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Nunn also won the 1999 championship with then CART rookie Juan Pablo Montoya.

In 2000, he formed his own team, Mo Nunn Racing, with driver Tony Kanaan – Bryan Herta also contested a trio of events for Nunn that year after Kanaan suffered an injury – and the outfit grew to two cars in 2001, with Zanardi competing alongside Kanaan.

Nunn also ventured into the series that is now called the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2002, fielding an entry for Felipe Giaffone. They went on to win one race that year (Kentucky Speedway) and Nunn’s outfit won another in 2003, with Alex Barron at Michigan International Speedway.

Nunn was a popular and highly regarded figure in the paddock, and a number of people in the racing world took to social media to offer condolences and tributes.

IndyCar on NBC’s Robin Miller offered this detailed look at Nunn’s life in the sport on RACER.com, covering the origins of his career and the impact he had on such drivers as Zanardi and Montoya.

Nunn was 79 years of age at the time of his passing.

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