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With Sauber’s confirmation, just one F1 seat remains for 2018

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While the 2018 Formula 1 driver market has been nowhere near as volatile as expected given the extensions for Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, some questions were left unanswered following the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi last Sunday.

Besides the one remaining seat at Williams alongside Lance Stroll, Sauber was still yet to confirm either of its 2018 drivers, with three candidates being in contention.

Ferrari was known to be keen on placing both its outstanding junior drivers, Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi, at Sauber for 2018 as part of an expanded technical partnership with the team.

Sauber, meanwhile, had Marcus Ericsson angling for a seat despite not scoring any points in either of the last two seasons, relying heavily on his links to the team’s owners.

Sauber announced earlier this week it would be racing as ‘Alfa Romeo Sauber’ in 2018, heralding the return of the Alfa Romeo name to F1 after more than 30 years.

Despite the stronger links to Ferrari, the Italian manufacturer was unable to get its way, with Sauber confirming Leclerc and Ericsson at its launch on Saturday.

With this confirmation, just one seat remains on the F1 grid for 2018 as Williams continues to consider who will replace Felipe Massa and partner Lance Stroll next year.

Formula 1 2018 – Drivers and Teams

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen
Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen
Force India: Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon
Williams: Lance Stroll, TBA
Toro Rosso: Pierre Gasly, Brendon Hartley
Renault: Carlos Sainz Jr., Nico Hulkenberg
Haas: Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen
McLaren: Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
Sauber: Marcus Ericsson, Charles Leclerc

INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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