Rosberg not losing focus despite early points lead

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Nico Rosberg is refusing to lose focus despite surging into a healthy points lead in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship after the opening three races of the 2016 season.

Rosberg scored his sixth successive grand prix victory on Sunday in China to give himself a perfect score of 75 points for this year.

Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton finished a tough weekend in seventh place after battling from the very back of the grid and a first lap crash.

The gap between the two Mercedes drivers now stands at 36 points, while history is also on Rosberg’s side after his emphatic win in Shanghai.

“It’s been a fantastic few days for me here in China,” Rosberg said. “First of all, the fans have been amazing from the moment I arrived. They’re so enthusiastic, which gives us drivers a very special feeling.

“Then, racing wise, it was an almost perfect weekend. Only the start could have been better – but luckily I was able to pass Daniel later on the straight and from then on I could build up a gap. I must say, I’ve never had a better balance in my car than I had today.

“It was really perfect, so a big thanks to everyone who helped me achieve that. I also want to thank all the women in my life – my wife, my daughter and my mother. Their support is unbelievable and that’s really what makes it possible for me to be doing what I’m doing.”

Rosberg is refusing to get ahead of himself in spite of his points lead, instead turning his attention to the Russian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

“I’m a very happy man today and, after three races I can be really pleased about how my season has gone so far,” Rosberg said.

“But it’s a very long year ahead and there’s a lot of points still on the table, so I’m not losing my focus.

“Now I look forward to Russia, where I started my good run of qualifying results last year. Hopefully I can get on a nice run like that again.”

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”