Wet qualifying benefits Red Bull, hinders Williams, on Saturday in Malaysia

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A deluge of rain ahead of the final part of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix resulted in contrasting results for Red Bull and Williams at the Sepang International Circuit on Saturday.

Having endured a miserable start to the 2015 season in Australia, Red Bull put all talks of a possible withdrawal from Formula 1 to one side to rally to a strong result in qualifying in Malaysia.

Thanks to the wet conditions, the power deficit of the Renault power unit was less damaging to the team, allowing Daniel Ricciardo to qualify an excellent fourth for the team.

“In the dry I don’t think we would’ve been fourth today, so obviously we’re a little bit more competitive in these conditions,” the Australian said.

“But in saying that I think we’re close enough to the front so that even if it’s dry, if we get a good start – and I use my mirrors for 56 laps – we could be doing pretty well.

“I won’t be disappointed if it rains. It’s a little bit more tricky in the wet, but I can’t really complain.”

Ricciardo was joined in the top five by teammate Daniil Kvyat, who equalled his best F1 qualifying result on Saturday at Sepang.

“It was a decent qualifying for us, P4 and P5 is good for the team but I think on our lap we maybe went out a little early,” Kvyat said.

“It might have been better later on but it’s hard always to know with the conditions. Overall, there are a lot of positives to take from this weekend and we are seeing some improvements, it’s a good start.”

Just as the rain worked in Red Bull’s favor, it played against Williams, whose pace would have seen both of its drivers qualify towards the front of the grid.

Felipe Massa could only finish seventh on Saturday, with Valtteri Bottas in ninth place for the British team. The Finn has made up a position on the grid by virtue of Romain Grosjean’s grid penalty, though.

“Changeable conditions made it a tough session,” head of performance engineering Rob Smedley explained. “We were on the right tire at the right time and attempted to be the last car across the line knowing the track was improving every lap.

“We need to consider why our performance wasn’t there in the wet conditions but we have a very good car in race trim as we saw on Friday.

“We have a lot to do tomorrow but the temperature is looking like it will be very hot during the race so we must make the right strategic decisions.”

The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30a ET tomorrow.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.