F1: Red Bull keeping close leash on Ricciardo, Verstappen after Baku crash

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Things have changed at Red Bull.

The team appears to be putting a limit on the freedom it gives its drivers after seeing them crash into each other in the race at Azerbaijan.

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen now know Red Bull is not going to sit and watch as they bang wheels and risk ruining their races again.

They said ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix that there won’t be team orders, but the team will intervene if it feels the drivers’ actions are hurting the team.

That’s what happened in Baku. They both crashed out and earned zero points.

“I think if it got to that point again, where there’s banging wheels and stuff, then yeah,” Ricciardo said. “We are not going to have team orders, but if we find ourselves battling too hard or losing time to the others, especially if maybe there is a faster car coming through, then I think the team will step in before we start banging wheels again.”

Verstappen said that although no specific new rules were in place, he expected the team to be more proactive.

“If it’s like Baku again, maybe at one point the team will say, `OK, maybe calm down a bit, just follow each other that last few laps,’ I don’t know,” Verstappen said. “In general, they still trust us and we also understand that we don’t want that to happen again.”

Ricciardo was faster than Verstappen in Azerbaijan but couldn’t get past his teammate. As Ricciardo tried to force his way past Verstappen at the end of the front straightaway, Verstappen closed the door and Ricciardo couldn’t avoid the collision.

Neither of the drivers took full blame for the crash.

“We all talked about it, from all different points of views,” Ricciardo said. “From what the drivers could have done better, what the team could have done better, the decision makers on the pit wall, what the engineers could have done better.”

Ricciardo, who was coming off a victory in China, said maybe he should have insisted that the team tell Verstappen to let him by.

“I was saying, `I can go faster,’ but I was not shouting, sounding like a little girl,” he said. “But maybe I should have. I guess part of me was wanting to try and make it happen without being assisted, but after some point it probably got a bit too long. That’s where maybe the team can step in in the future.”

The crash left Ricciardo fifth in the drivers’ standings, while Verstappen dropped to eighth.

The drivers visited Red Bull’s headquarters in England after the Azerbaijan race and apologized to the rest of the team.

“We sent our apologies and told them it won’t happen again.”

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Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds