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Toro Rosso in talks to rebadge F1 power unit for 2017

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Scuderia Toro Rosso is in negotiations with a sponsor over a deal to rebadge its power unit for the 2017 Formula 1 season, according to team principal Franz Tost.

Toro Rosso will return to current-year Renault engines for next season after using 2015-spec Ferrari power units for 2016.

The deal sees Toro Rosso mirror the power units supplied to parent team, Red Bull, who rebadged the engines as TAG Heuer in 2016 following a deal with the Swiss watch company.

Toro Rosso could now be set to strike a similar deal, with its power unit supplier being listed as ‘to be confirmed’ on the provisional entry sheet for the 2017 season.

“We have the opportunity to find a title sponsor to rebrand our 2017 engine, as Red Bull did last year with TAG Heuer,” Tost told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We are in talks and discussions with a sponsor.”

Toro Rosso enjoys links with a number of sponsors already, including cloud computing company Acronis and watch brand Casio, making both possible candidates to take over sponsorship of the engine.

Tost also confirmed in the interview that Toro Rosso is on schedule with its 2017 car, the STR12, which will make its on-track debut in a filming day prior to pre-season testing in February.

“We have done the crash tests and will do a filming day with the new car before the first winter test,” he said.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).