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Engine issues, grid penalties stack up for Toro Rosso at Interlagos

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Toro Rosso’s hopes of improving its recent form in Formula 1 took a major hit on Friday during practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix as both Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley were sidelined by engine issues during the day.

The FIA confirmed on Friday that Gasly and Hartley would both have to serve 10-place grid penalties after taking new elements for their Renault power units following failures in Mexico.

To add insult to injury, Hartley’s car ground to a halt after he’d completed just two laps, leaving the New Zealander stranded in the infield until the end of the session.

Gasly suffered an MGU-H failure on his power unit that meant he could manage just five laps in total in FP1, as well as triggering an additional 15-place grid penalty to take his total drop to 25 at Interlagos.

“This morning, of course, was not great for us with the engine issue. I had only one timed lap and Brendon none, so we didn’t learn much – for me about the track and for the rest of the team about the car and setup,” Hartley said.

“It wasn’t ideal. I managed to do many laps in FP2 which was good (54 total), a short run on softs and super softs, and then long runs on the second part of the session so I think it was really good.

“We finally could seize the potential of the car and work towards qualifying and the race on Sunday. At least we have many things to analyze tonight and to work and improve on for tomorrow.”

Toro Rosso chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls added: “Obviously it was a very difficult FP1 for the team again, we came in knowing we would need to take some engine penalties for MGU-Hs, which we did.

“Unfortunately, the new MGU-H on Pierre’s car failed early on while the issue on the other car looked more catastrophic than it was. It was something quite simple in the engine, where it smoked badly which everyone saw but we were able to fix it with no further issues.

“Both cars went out pretty much at the start of FP2, so the mechanics did a fantastic job, given there was a complete engine swap on one and an engine strip and rebuild on the other, so really well done to get them out.”

Toro Rosso has scored just one point in the last three races, courtesy of the now-dropped Daniil Kvyat at the United States Grand Prix.

Wickens undergoes successful surgery

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Just days after successfully piloting an Acura NSX around Toronto’s Exhibition Palace street course, Robert Wickens has undergone a successful surgery operation to remove hardware from his leg after a previous infection had returned, the 30-year-old Canadian revealed on social media Wednesday.

“Spinal Cord injury has such highs and lows,” Wickens said in an Instagram post prior to surgery. “One day I’m in the NSX driving the hand controlled car, and the next day I’m getting ready for surgery. Life is so unpredictable!”

Fortunately, the surgery went well for Wickens, as he later announced that his surgery had no complications. Wickens will now start six weeks of IV antibiotics before he returns to a full rehab program.

“One piece (there’s a lot) of the hardware had an infected screw,” Wickens wrote. “All hardware in my leg was removed.”

Wickens is currently recovering from spinal fracture sustained in an IndyCar crash at Pocono Raceway last August. Since his crash and diagnosis, Wickens has openly documented his recovery process through social media.

Wickens returned to the INDYCAR paddock for the first time since his accident at the season-opener in St. Petersburg in March, and his laps behind the wheel in Toronto last weekend marked the first time he had driven in public since his accident.

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