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Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship remains dormant, a pair of its drivers will be quite busy at this weekend’s Rolex 24.

Further, a couple news stories surfaced that wrapped a conflict going back two years and offered a hint about one team changing its name.

Below is a recap of the Formula 1 news week:

Alonso, Stroll Ready for Rolex 24

The 2018 edition of the Rolex 24 sees a pair of full-time Formula 1 drivers grace the grid in McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, in United Autosports’ No. 23 entry, and Williams Martini Racing’s Lance Stroll, a part of the driver rotation in the No. 37 Jackie Chan DCR JOTA entry.

Alonso is, unsurprisingly, the more high-profile of the two, with the Rolex 24 continuing his preparation for a possible entry at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Rolex is Alonso’s first sports car race, let alone a sports car endurance race. Further still, it’s his first time running on a track that features high-banking in the corners, a facet that created a different sensation for him behind the wheel.

“You feel the compression in the body, you feel the visibility change because when in a normal car on the circuit, your view in the car is longer ahead,” he detailed following the Roar Before the 24 test. “When you are in the corner with banking you see only the next 200 meters of the track. “But it was good fun, a good feeling after missing track time. So far, so good.’’

For Lance Stroll, this year’s Rolex is a return trip for him, the 19-year-old having previously contested the event back in 2016, when he finished fifth with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

Alonso was selected to do the qualifying in his No. 23 Ligier JS P217 Gibson, qualifying 13th, the best of the Ligier entries. Stroll ultimately ceded to Robin Frijns, who qualified the No. 37 Oreca 07 Gibson in sixth.

Force India, Sauber Drop 2015 Complaint of Anti-Competitive Practices

Back in 2015, Sahara Force India and Sauber F1 Team filed a complaint to the European Commission over anti-competitive practices in Formula One, primarily contesting the distribution of revenue and the process by which rules were established.

However, earlier this week, both teams announced via press releases that they agreed to withdraw the aforementioned complaints, citing progress in discussions involving such topics as prize money, cost reduction, and engine regulations.

Force India to Change its Name?

A long-standing rumor has Sahara Force India changing its name. This rumor grew more legs earlier in the week when a report on Crash.net detailed that the team could reveal its new name at the launch of their 2018 car on February 25.

One of the possible names is Force F1 Team, with an entity reportedly already registered.

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Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.