Daniel Ricciardo re-affirms commitment to Red Bull for next two years

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Daniel Ricciardo has dismissed suggestions that he could move to Mercedes for either the 2017 or 2018 Formula 1 seasons, re-affirming his commitment to Red Bull Racing.

Ricciardo has been one of F1’s most prominent drivers in recent years, finishing third in the drivers’ standings in 2014 and 2016 and claiming four grand prix victories.

The Australian has been tipped to mount a challenge for the World Championship next year with Red Bull, with the team making great progress across the course of 2016.

Ricciardo was one of a number of drivers linked to the vacant seat at Mercedes for 2017, made available following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement from F1 five days after winning his maiden title.

However, Ricciardo confirmed earlier this week that his contract with Red Bull runs for another two seasons, taking him to the end of the 2018 campaign.

“I’ve got two more years at Red Bull. That’s where I’m going to be,” Ricciardo told Australian Associated Press  in Perth.

“There’s a lot of people that are tempted to jump into that [Mercedes] seat, and you don’t blame them.

“I just hope whoever gets it appreciates it. It’s a damn good one.

“But for me, you’ll see me at Albert Park in a Red Bull.”

Mercedes is expected to sign Valtteri Bottas from Williams for 2017 in a deal that will see Felipe Massa come out of retirement and return to a race seat with the British team.

A number of F1’s high-profile drivers will be out of contract at the end of the 2017 season, including McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, making them options for Mercedes should Bottas be handed a short-term deal.

Ricciardo’s future remains secure, it appears, having formed a successful partnership with Max Verstappen during their time together at Red Bull through the 2016 season.

The 2017 season gets underway in Melbourne, Australia on March 26.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III