Rosberg fastest again in second practice for Australian GP


Nico Rosberg has continued his perfect start to the 2015 Formula 1 season by finishing as the fastest driver in second practice for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday evening.

The German driver had topped the first practice session of the year at Albert Park earlier on Friday, and managed to double up in FP2 by edging out teammate Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets once again.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:27.697 on the soft compound tire, beating Hamilton by one-tenth of a second as Mercedes eased to a one-two finish yet again.

However, the Silver Arrows’ advantage did diminish from FP1, with Ferrari looking far stronger on the soft tire as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished third and fourth for the Italian marque. Vettel may have finished a distant 0.7 seconds behind Rosberg at the top, but definite progress appears to have been made at Maranello over the winter.

After sitting out the first session on Friday amid its legal wrangling with ex-reserve driver Giedo van der Garde, Sauber finally hit the track in FP2 with Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson both completing laps. Nasr enjoyed a good Friday to finish 11th, but the same could not be said of Ericsson, whose running was curtailed following a suspension failure.

McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen also hit trouble on Friday evening, making a mistake at turn six to put his MP4-30 in the wall and warrant the first red flag period of the season. Magnussen was uninjured, and confirmed on Twitter that the accident was due to driver error.

Once again, Manor failed to get its cars out on track during FP2, with Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens being sidelined as the team continues to find its feet after a turbulent winter. Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa were also unable to get out on track due to problems with their power units, whilst Jenson Button suffered a loss of power in the final ten minutes of the day for McLaren.

Although it may be difficult to make any firm assumptions at this early stage, Mercedes certainly appears to be dominating proceedings once again in Melbourne, setting the stage for an almighty intra-team scrap between Rosberg and Hamilton for supremacy this weekend.

Be sure to join us on Saturday for the final free practice session and qualifying, with our full broadcasting schedule viewable here.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.