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Rosberg braced for ‘big battle’ with Ferrari, Red Bull in Singapore

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Nico Rosberg is braced for a “big battle” between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull in this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix after Friday’s closely-fought practice running.

After seeing Max Verstappen head up a Red Bull one-two in FP1, Rosberg responded in second practice by topping the timesheets for Mercedes.

Each of the three leading teams enjoyed spells at the head of the field and set a similar long-run pace, stoking the fire nicely for a scrap between them in Singapore.

“It’s really close between ourselves, Red Bull and Ferrari,” Rosberg acknowledged after the session.

“Much closer than at some other tracks for sure, so it looks like a big battle ahead.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Rosberg’s Friday did not go by without one issue, though, after a mistake in FP1 saw him hit the wall and damage the front-end of his Mercedes W07 Hybrid car.

“The first session was going OK until I hit the wall at Turn 18,” Rosberg explained.

“That wasn’t ideal, but luckily the impact wasn’t too heavy, so I managed to get the car back to the pits and the guys had it ready in time for FP2.

“The second session felt better but we still have some room for improvement.

“It’s been a solid start to the weekend. Definitely better than last year.”

Rosberg enters the Singapore weekend trailing Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by just two points at the top of the drivers’ championship.

Qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 9am ET on Saturday.

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

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