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Sainz joins Renault from USGP onwards; Kvyat, Gasly to finish season for Toro Rosso

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Renault has confirmed that Carlos Sainz Jr. will make his Formula 1 debut with the team at the United States Grand Prix later this month, completing his move from Toro Rosso four races early.

Daniil Kvyat will return to Toro Rosso after two races out and partner Pierre Gasly, who will not contest the Super Formula finale as a result.

Minutes after Jolyon Palmer announced via Instagram he would be leaving Renault after this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, the French marque issued a statement confirming Sainz from the Austin race until the end of the season.

Sainz had been due to join Renault for the 2018 season, with the team making efforts to sign him as early as Malaysia, but only reached an agreement with Palmer to terminate the contract after Suzuka.

“First of all I would like to thank Toro Rosso and Red Bull for allowing me the possibility of finishing this season with Renault Sport Racing,” Sainz said.

“More specifically, I really want to thank all my engineers and mechanics for their support and tremendous work throughout these years. Toro Rosso is made up of a fantastic group of people and I wish them only the best for the future.

“On my side, I will definitely do my very best in tomorrow’s race – this would be the best possible send-off! Additionally, competing in these last four races with Renault gives me a good opportunity to get to know the team and the car earlier than expected. I am looking forward to start working with them.”

Kvyat was dropped by Toro Rosso due to poor form after the Singapore Grand Prix, making way for 2016 GP2 champion Gasly, but will be drafted back in to replace Sainz.

The announcement from Toro Rosso also confirmed Gasly for the USGP, meaning he will not fight for the Super Formula title in Japan despite sitting just half a point behind the leader heading into the season finale.

More to follow…

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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