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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.

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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