Rosberg delighted with perfect start on Friday in Australia

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Nico Rosberg could not have wished for a better start to the 2015 Formula 1 season after topping both of Friday’s free practice sessions in Melbourne, Australia.

Rosberg edged out Mercedes teammate and probable championship rival Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets in both FP1 and FP2, enjoying an aggregate advantage of 0.129 seconds at the end of the day.

Mercedes appears to have lost none of its pace from its record-breaking 2014 season, with Ferrari finishing some seven-tenths of a second down on the German team on Friday.

Rosberg was pleased that his practice results affirmed the faith that he had shown in the new Mercedes W06 Hybrid car during winter testing, and is already readying himself for a battle with Hamilton for the drivers’ title once again in 2015.

“It was great to be back in the car at this awesome track,” Rosberg said. “Today we have the evidence that our Silver Arrow is quick again and it was a great start for the team.

“I was very happy with my long run but on one lap I still need to work on the pace as I had a lot of oversteer in the car. It seems again that it’s very close between Lewis and me and he is a great driver, so I need to nail the setup every time to come out on top.

“This year will be a big battle again against him, I’m sure. I’m looking forward to the first weekend of the new season with all the great fans out there.”

In spite of Rosberg’s display, team boss Toto Wolff called on Mercedes to remain grounded at the start of the season, remaining wary of the pace that Ferrari and Williams may have in reserve.

“We need to keep our feet on the ground but it makes no sense to talk ourselves down: the performance is good and we look competitive,” Wolff said.

“But it wasn’t a seamless day, the drivers weren’t too happy with the car on the final run, so we have some work to do overnight to find the sweet spot.

“Looking at the field, it will be close with Ferrari and Williams, too. Of course, we don’t know fuel loads and don’t know what engine modes were run, whether it was really spicy or if there is still more to come.

“Like always: when the flag drops, the bull**** stops. Let’s see how it looks tomorrow.”

You can watch qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2a ET on Saturday. Click here for more details.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.