Raikkonen: Work to be done to improve reliability of Ferrari car

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Kimi Raikkonen says that Ferrari still has work to do when it comes to improving the reliability of its SF16-H car after suffering issues in the first two races of the 2016 Formula 1 season.

Raikkonen was forced to retire in Australia when running third after a fire broke out on his car, while teammate Sebastian Vettel failed to make the start in Bahrain due to an issue on his power unit.

As a result, Ferrari has already slipped 40 points behind Mercedes in the constructors’ championship despite being tipped as possible challengers to the German marque in 2016.

Speaking in Thursday’s FIA press conference, Raikkonen acknowledged that Ferrari needed to improve the reliability of its new car, but remains upbeat about the baseline of the SF16-H.

“We’re still positive about what the team has built over winter, that hasn’t changed at all,” Raikkonen said.

“Obviously it hasn’t been ideal, the first two races, for us as a team. We had two podiums but two not scored, not finished. That’s not what we want.

“Obviously there is quite a bit of work to be done on that side – but the speed is there. I think we have a good package, we just have to improve it and make it even better but, the car has improved in all areas. It’s not just one thing that has improved over the winter.

“It’s a brand new car again: engine has improved, the car itself. It’s the teamwork that has brought us a better package. Still not as good as we want to be, not the best that we wanted to be – but this is definitely a good car and we go from there.

“If there is something I would prefer more, we prefer it when we have a better car and a faster car so that’s good and obviously some handling things we weren’t happy with last year we tried to improve – and have improved. But there’s always things to improve and do things better.”

Raikkonen ran well in second practice on Friday in China to finish at the head of the field, leading a Ferrari one-two. However, the Finn found conditions troublesome out on track.

“It has been quite a difficult day overall, I was struggling to get the grip on the tires probably due to the wind,” Raikkonen said.

“I was sliding a lot and this feeling was not very nice. When I put the super-softs they seemed to work better, I had more grip and this helped to have a pretty good lap.

“We’ll see how the weather conditions turn out to be tomorrow, we’ll try to make a good day and then get the maximum out of the race.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday.

Meyer Shank Racing wins second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona to begin GTP era

Rolex 24 Meyer Shank
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Grand Touring Prototype era began just as the previous one ended as Meyer Shank Racing’s Acura captured its second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona with star Tom Blomqvist emphatically starting and finishing the race.

The No. 60 ARX-06 won the 24-hour endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway by 4.190 seconds over Filipe Albuquerque of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, giving Acura a sweep of the top two spots.

The Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh cars took the next two spots with Renger van der Zande (the No. 01) and Earl Bamber (No. 02) as four of the nine new GTP cars finished on the lead lap within 12 seconds of each other – quashing the prerace hand-wringing of mass failures for the highly technical cars in the debut of the hybrid prototype premier category.

There were major problems for the manufacturer newcomers Porsche Penske Motorsport and BMW M Team RLL, whose two pairs of cars all finished at least a dozen laps down or more because of major mechanical problems in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

Just as he capped the 2022 season by winning the Petit Le Mans season finale in the No. 60 Acura to clinch the final championship of the DPi division for MSR, Blomqvist was behind the wheel again for his third overall victory in IMSA.

“That was crazy,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I knew we had a fantastic car. I’ve been working hard. Unbelievable. Massive, well done, everyone being part of this project and worked together on this project. What a car we’ve built.

“I was just a bit nervous. The 10 was definitely second fastest car, but we held them off

It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 victory for MSR’s trio of Blomqvist and IndyCar teammates and Indy 500 winners Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves. They were joined this year by Colin Braun, who won his first Rolex 24 overall.

Castroneves joined select company in winning the Rolex 24 in three consecutive years. His first win was with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2021.

“Can you believe that?” Castroneves told Lee. “Big props to everyone. Everyone did an amazing job. Everybody worked so hard together. We got it! Another one. I can’t believe it. This is absolutely a dream come true.”

The four-time Indy 500 winner led the team in his signature fence-climbing celebration afterward.

“It’s always fun to climb the fence with Helio,” said Pagenaud, who drove the second-to-last stint before Blomqvist closed it out: “The competition as amazing. It was tough out there. So much fun. Hope you had as much fun as we had. I’m going to savor this one.”

Winners in other classes were the No. 55 ORECA 07 of Proton Competition (which triumphed on a last-lap pass by James Allen on Ben Hanley), WeatherTech Racing’s No. 79 Mercedes in GTD Pro, Heart of Racing’s No. 27 Aston Martin in GTD and AWA’s No. 17 in LMP3.