Spanish GP Paddock Notebook – Thursday

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MONTMELO – The Spanish Grand Prix is widely regarded as being one of the most important races of the Formula 1 season as a number of teams bring major updates to their cars for the first time.

The pecking order in the opening four races of the year has been pretty clear: Mercedes, then Ferrari, then Williams, and then the rest, with McLaren and Manor propping up the order.

However, that could be set to change this weekend as most of the teams bring major upgrade packages to their cars. Ferrari, Lotus and Red Bull are known to be bringing a raft of updates for their cars, whilst McLaren is also poised to make a big stride forwards.

Rounding up all of the news and insight from the paddock in Barcelona today, here is the Paddock Notebook.

PADDOCK NEWS

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

Updates, updates everywhere

As per my grand prix preview earlier today, the word of the weekend is “updates” – who has them, and perhaps more importantly, who does not. Ferrari, Red Bull, Lotus and McLaren are all bringing sizeable upgrade packages to the race in Spain, whilst the rest of the field appears to be focus on quality rather than quantity. Interestingly, both Toro Rosso and Force India won’t have much of note that is new on the car until Austria and Great Britain respectively, so keep an eye out for their competitive pace this weekend.

Is Bottas on the move?

Some interesting words from Valtteri Bottas today regarding his future, categorically denying that he has signed a pre-contract with Ferrari for the 2017 season. However, he did also reveal that he is a free agent for 2016 as things stand, and is yet to open negotiations with Williams over a new contract. The Finn is hot property, and with Kimi Raikkonen approaching the end of his career, Ferrari could opt to pass up on the option it has on his contract and sign Bottas instead. Time will tell though. This could be the story that defines silly season in 2015, though…

Lewis the lawyer

…once Lewis Hamilton’s contract is resolved, that is. He has been oh so close to signing a new deal with Mercedes for about eight months now, but still no deal has been reached. He confirmed today that there are no updates to give, but has learned plenty by negotiating the deal himself without the support of a management company. “It’s been good in that sense because I think when I retire I could write some contracts,” he told the media on Thursday. “So if any of you guys need a manager, I think I could do a good job for you!” Depends on what sort of cut you’re after, Lewis…

Hulkenberg returns from the wild WEC

Nico Hulkenberg returns to F1 action this weekend following his debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship last weekend in the 6 Hours of Spa with Porsche, where he finished sixth. It was a respectable display, and he enjoyed the experience a great deal. Next up? The fearsome 24 Hours of Le Mans. To see an F1 driver be allowed to race in two series is very refreshing indeed. Force India may be hurt by the lack of updates on the car this weekend, so don’t expect Hulkenberg or Sergio Perez to be fighting in the top ten. Then again, if lady luck is smiling on Force India, points could yet be on the cards.

Alonso prepares for a big welcome home

“Alonsomania” is a thing in Spain, making this weekend rather important to the fans that will flock in their thousands to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Although there are two other Spanish drivers – Carlos Sainz Jr. and Roberto Merhi – Alonso is the man who will be under the biggest pressure to perform. McLaren’s updates for the MP4-30 could not be arriving at a better time, but the team may still only be fighting only on the fringes of the top ten, it would seem. It all adds up for a fascinating fight in the midfield, though, and with different strategies at play, the Spanish Grand Prix will throw up a number of storylines.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)