Formula 1: Recapping the past week’s news

Photo: Getty Images
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This past week saw the FIA Formula 1 World Championship return to on-track action as pre-season testing kicked off at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, the week was far from smooth, with weather conditions impacting two of the four days of testing, with Wednesday’s sessions effectively wiped out because of a combination of snow and rain.

However, the final day of testing this week, on Thursday, saw the weather give way to much better conditions, and F1 teams finished out the week with the busiest day of testing so far. Three drivers turned in over 100 laps – McLaren F1 Team’s Stoffel Vandoorne (110 laps), Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel (120 laps), and Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly (147 laps), while Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton turned in the fastest lap of the week at 1:19.333.

Other drivers to lead individual days were Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo (fastest on Day 1) and the aforementioned Vettel (fastest on Day 2).

McLaren also enjoyed a strong outing in the first week of testing, this after switching to Renault power units following a problematic three-year stretch with Honda. Both Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso ranked inside the top five on Thursday (Vandoorne second, Alonso fifth) while the team has enjoyed no significant mechanical problems so far, their only on-track issue coming on Day 1 when a broken wheel nut sent Alonso spinning off the track at the final corner.

Toro Rosso, which is now running Honda power units, has also enjoyed a trouble-free opening week, with Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly combining for over 300 laps of running between them.

Pre-season testing resumes on Monday.

Drivers Adapting to the Halo

The newly created halo that surrounds the cockpit of all 2018 Formula 1 cars has been a point of controversy ever since the concept was conceived.

However, while the look of it remains a point of much debate, the drivers are getting used to its presence and have found adapting to it relatively easy.

The “halo” remains a point of controversy as drivers begin adapting to it. Photo: Getty Images

“When you are sitting there you only see the center pillar and a small part of the wider one, but you are not looking there anyway. It’s a small thing in the middle and that’s it, I’m completely used to it and it’s fine,” said Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. “It took a little bit of time to get used to it but it’s OK. It’s not been disturbing anything.”

Concerns, then, about the drivers’ ability to see appear to have been alleviated, although its appearance remains unpopular.

“I’m not impressed with the whole thing. If you give me a chainsaw I would take it off,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff asserted. “I think we need to look after the drivers’ safety but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing. We need to come up with a solution that simply looks better.”

F1 to Launch an Over-the-Top Streaming Service

Liberty Media and Formula 1 confirmed that an over-the-top streaming service, dubbed F1 TV, will become available early in the 2018 season.

The service will be similar in nature to ones offered by the FIM MotoGP and Superbike World Championships, featuring coverage of all on-track sessions, both live and on-demand, as well as coverage of several Formula 1 support series, such as the FIA Formula 2 Championship and the GP3 Series.

The subscription service will be offered in two tiers, F1 TV Pro at a monthly cost of $8-$12, and the less expensive F1 TV Access. More information about F1 TV can be found here.

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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III