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Lewis Hamilton grabbed top spot with his final fast lap of the third Formula 1 free practice session for the Russian Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion had seemed to lack the pace to depose Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who spent much of the pair's battle at the top of the timesheets as the low wear and degradation at Sochi allowed drivers to reel off multiple fast laps on each set of rubber.

But while Rosberg opted to pit after completing 22 laps, Hamilton continued for one final attempt on the super-soft rubber that all drivers used to set their fastest times

As was the case throughout much of the session, Hamilton was fastest in sector one, but this time he also set the fastest middle sector and, despite not being able to match Rosberg's final sector pace, did enough to go fastest overall by 0.068 seconds.

Sebastian Vettel, who was slowest heading into the last runs after completing heavy fuel work for much of the session as he prepares for his grid penalty, jumped into contention for top spot in the final 10 minutes. His mighty pace in the second sector briefly suggested he could challenge the Mercedes, but ultimately he was six-tenths down in third.

Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, seven-tenths slower than Vettel, but he could have been faster but for an error at the final corner on what might have been a stronger lap.

Williams duo Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, who both briefly held best of the rest status behind the two Mercedes driver after setting times on their final set of tires before the Ferrari drivers, ended up fifth and sixth.

Max Verstappen was seventh for Toro Rosso, with Jenson Button a solid eighth after being able to extract better performance out of the super-soft tyres than was the case on Friday.

Carlos Sainz Jr and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10, the latter having briefly triggered a virtual safety car after going up the escape road at the Turn 13 right-hander at the end of the back straight and then needing assistance from the marshals to complete his U-turn to rejoin.

Daniel Ricciardo, who held top spot in the early going, ended up 11th but completed a large number of laps, second only to Vettel, in preparation for the race.

PRACTICE THREE TIMES

PosDriverCarTimeGapLaps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.403ss 1m36.403s 17
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m36.471ss 0.068s 22
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m37.007ss 0.604s 28
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m37.727ss 1.324s 14
5 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m37.918ss 1.515s 16
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m37.985ss 1.582s 16
7 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m38.133ss 1.730s 22
8 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m38.260ss 1.857s 14
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m38.465ss 2.062s 25
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m38.542ss 2.139s 18
11 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/TAG Heuer 1m38.622ss 2.219s 23
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m38.633ss 2.230s 12
13 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/TAG Heuer 1m39.047ss 2.644s 15
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m39.162ss 2.759s 16
15 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m39.230ss 2.827s 18
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m39.238ss 2.835s 16
17 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m39.239ss 2.836s 15
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m39.589ss 3.186s 19
19 Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes 1m39.599ss 3.196s 19
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m39.663ss 3.260s 18
21 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m39.740ss 3.337s 23
22 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m39.898ss 3.495s 19

 

Originally on Autosport.com

genericBoston Grand Prix CEO John Casey says he should know whether his newly-cancelled street race will have a replacement before the Indianapolis 500 gets under way.

"We'd have to come up with something in 10 business days," Casey told RACER.

Replacing Boston on short notice has led Casey's team to look for new venues to keep the September 2-4 date planned for the Verizon IndyCar Series' penultimate round. Although the BGP group focused its efforts on a street race, Casey said he is "opening up all options" to include permanent tracks.

As RACER's Robin Miller wrote in his interview with IndyCar CEO Mark Miles, the Gateway oval in Missouri, the Watkins Glen road course in upstate New York, and other circuits with previous IndyCar event-hosting experience have come to the fore. Casey wouldn't be drawn on which tracks are on his radar, but insisted that he hasa options. "We've got a couple of different alternatives and I think we can pull it off," he said.

Casey also says his promotions team has received positive feedback from the corporate sponsors that were signed for Boston.

"We reached out to our sponsors, and the support has been overwhelmingly in favor to come with us," he added.

Despite the collapse of the Boston Grand Prix, Casey says he's determined to make sure it isn't the final chapter in this street race sage.

"We've put a lot of time and effort here into the race and we don't want our efforts to go for naught, so we're trying to put something new together and that's what we're working towards," he said.

watkins glenAbove: Ryan Briscoe leads Helio Castroneves at Watkins Glen in July 2010.

A few minutes after Mark Miles received the bad news about Boston being cancelled on Friday, he was on the phone exploring IndyCar's options.

"Obviously I'm trying to determine if we have a Plan B and we can pull a rabbit out of a hat," the president and CEO of Hulman & Company said Friday night. "It was very disappointing to get this news, but now we're focused on seeing if we have enough time to replace it. And we've got to make sure it's a quality event."

Miles paused, then added: "But I don't see it being a street race."

The Grand Prix of Boston was scheduled for Labor Day weekend, so it could be tricky trying to put something together for Sept. 2-4 since it's only four months away.

If IndyCar wants to try an oval, Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, would appear to be a viable option since it's already been approved as a test track and president Curtis Francois has made it known he wants the Verizon series at his track.

The problem might be that an NHRA weekend is scheduled Sept. 23-25.

"Gateway obviously wants to have an IndyCar race and I'll call them but I don't want to do anything to jeopardize their re-entry into the series," Miles said of the short oval that hosted CART from 1996-2000 before the Indy Racing League took over from 2001-03.

Auto Club Speedway, scene of one of the most exciting IndyCar races in recent history last June, could also be a possibility except for the likelihood of boiling hot temperatures at that time of the year.

New Hampshire got a lot of support on social media in the hours after the Boston announcement, but Loudon hosts NASCAR July 17 and Sept. 25 – in the Chase – so forget that as an option.

There is also a possibility IndyCar might try a road course, and Watkins Glen looks pretty wide open after its NASCAR show on August 7. IndyCar ran nine times at the scenic layout in upstate New York from 1979 to 2010 but had trouble drawing in its last try over the Fourth of July weekend six years ago.

It's the second time in Miles' regime he's had a venue red-flagged (Brasilia in 2013), but this one sounded rocky from the start despite the political assurances.

"We had a signed agreement with a promotional group that demonstrated the financial wherewithal to do the job and they had a signed agreement with the city of Boston," Miles said.

"We met with the Mayor's cabinet and they were all very supportive."

Boston was set to be the 15th of 16 races in 2016 with Sonoma hosting the season finale on Sept 18.

2016MarshallPruett IMSALaguna429 364The sister Mazda Prototypes shared leading the Prototype and GT Le Mans field on Friday at their home track Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The No. 70 Mazda P2 of Joel Miller and Tom Long led a 1-2 in the morning session with Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez following in the No. 55 entry, and they swapped positions in the afternoon with the No. 55 (1:18.139) well clear of the No. 70 (1:18.832).

Third-fastest went to the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2-Honda driven by Ozz Negri and John Pew (1:19.065). Best among the Daytona Prototypes was Ricky and Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP (1:19.444). The WTR DP was 0.356 seconds behind Miller in the morning and a full 1.305 seconds off of Bomarito in Free Practice 2.

"It's a textbook start to our weekend," Bomarito said.

"It's ironic - or convenient for Mazda that Mazda Raceway just fits our car really well. It's a medium to high-speed track that's very smooth so we can really run the P2 car low to the ground and capitalize on the downforce and ground effects of our car. We've been 1-2 in the first two sessions so we just need to keep our heads down and keep working hard. The guys have been doing a bunch of pit stop practice, driver change practice, and we're trying to check everything off the preparation list."

The No. 70 was one of many cars to miss the apex at the top of the hill as Prototypes and GTLMs did everything from sent dirt flying as they scrambled across the runoff to getting beached.

In GTLM, Scuderia Corsa followed a similar form with Mazda by leading both sessions. Daniel Serra and Alessandro Pier Guidi's No. 68 Ferrari 488 (1:22.981) headed a Ford GT 2-3 as the No. 67 driven by Ryan Briscoe and Westbrook (1:23.228) and the No. 66 driven by Joey Hand and Dirk Muller (1:23.338).

Up Next: Free Practice 3 Saturday morning from 11:05-11:50 a.m. PT.

phpThumb 1Promoters of the scheduled IndyCar race in Boston have ended negotiations with the city and are looking for an alternative venue.

“An event of this magnitude requires considerable city and state support, and though we did overcome significant obstacles and demands that have been presented to us, the most recent demands regarding the flood zone issues and requirements of additional expenditure on the line of credit with no guarantees of overcoming those issues have left us no options but to cancel the race in Boston and look at other options,” said John Casey, CEO and President of the Grand Prix of Boston in a statement.

“At this juncture the demands that have been asked of us make this event in Boston economically unviable and despite robust corporate partnerships and excellent tickets sales, if we have no guarantee of MEPA approval then time was of the essence to make this difficult decision.  It is very disappointing for everyone who has worked so hard on the event and all of our corporate partners and fans who have supported the Grand Prix of Boston.

"We have had a team of over 50 people, as well as the city and state agency personnel who have been working tirelessly to find successful and viable solutions and unfortunately we are at an impasse.  We are exploring all options and will have further information available in the coming days.”

Casey told RACER the decision boiled down to the city's unwillingness to provide "outward support."

"I’m sure not they tried to voluntarily torpedo it, but it’s the nature of the beast in Boston,"  Casey said in a call Friday night. "When they give you their support, it just means they won’t screw you. Nobody gives you outright support, and I think we won over a lot of people, and the business community, and the residents, but the opposition and the lack of outward support from the city while putting agreements together was tough. It was very one-sided. They put no skin in the game and they were going to reap a lot of benefits. Unlike other cities that were willing to help out, they were willing to do nothing."

Earlier, Casey told the Boston Globe that he can no longer work with city representatives and that he intends to move the race elsewhere.

“The relationship between us and the city is not working,” Casey told the Globe. “The relationship is untenable.”

No details were given as to the potential alternative venues, although according to the Globe, one is said to be in New England. Executives working with Boston promoter Mark Perrone were also recently linked to proposals for a street race in Oklahoma City. However, the tight timeframes involved would make a new street race extremely difficult to pull together.

INDYCAR released a statement saying it was made aware of the news Friday night.

"We are obviously disappointed with these media reports and are in the process of gathering additional details and will respond accordingly at the appropriate time," it said. "At this stage it is premature for INDYCAR to comment further on the situation locally in Boston or the prospect of an alternate event."

The move comes exactly a week after the Boston Conservation Commission determined that the part of the planned 2.2 mile street course ran through a 100-year flood zone, and would have to abide by an additional permit process relating to the environmental impact of any construction work.

Organizers also faced a May 1 deadline to guarantee state agencies that they would not be liable for any costs associated with the event.

Earlier this week, Casey told RACER that he was confident that the race, which had battled numerous administrative hurdles as well as opposition from some local residents, would ultimately succeed.

"This race is happening," Casey said. "We have had every timetable set forth before us. There's always obstacles. Man-made, non-man-made. With a big event like this in a big metropolitan city, we've met every obstacle, conquered every obstacle, and anything that comes up between now and September 2 we will conquer because we have the support of the state and the city and the majority of the population.”

The Boston Grand Prix, which was scheduled for the September 2-4 Labor Day weekend, would have been IndyCar’s first visit to the city, and the first IndyCar event in New England since New Hampshire Speedway fell off the calendar after 2011.

 

This story has been updated since initial publication to include statements from IndyCar and the Grand Prix of Boston.

Sebastian Vettel has been handed a five-place grid penalty for Formula 1's Russian Grand Prix after Ferrari elected to change his gearbox.

It is believed the gearbox sustained damage in his collision with F1 teammate Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 1 at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix. Following practice and investigations in Russia, Ferrari has decided to change the unit.

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It caps a difficult day for the German, who stopped on track 30 minutes into the second session with an electrical problem and did not return.

"It looks like we had an electronics problem which is a bit of a shame because we're lacking a couple of laps, especially the long run and race trim to see how competitive we are," he said. "Kimi did the homework for the team so [it's] not too bad. Also in Sochi, we know roughly what to expect so we can still learn a lot from what other people did."

Raikkonen, who finished fourth fastest in second practice, added: "It's not been an ideal day but from my side, we have to work to make the car the way we want. I didn't get any good proper laps but it was practice."

Ferrari fitted a new upgraded engine to both Vettel and Raikkonen's car after spending three development tokens.

Speaking about its performance, Raikkonen said: "It's a new one and we wouldn't use it if we didn't expect it to be good."

Originally on Autosport.com

2016MarshallPruett IMSALaguna429 085Joel Miller and Jonathan Bomarito led a Mazda Prototype 1-2 to open the Prototype/GT Le Mans portion of IMSA's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Miller's lap of 1:18.564 around the 11-turn, 2.2-mile road course was almost matched by Bomarito (1:18.604) and Michael Shank Racing's Ozz Negri in his Ligier JS P2-Honda (1:18.699). The fastest Daytona Prototype belonged to Ricky Taylor in the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP (1:21.316), who was 0.356 seconds behind Miller.

Scuderia Corsa's Alessandro Pier Guidi topped GT Le Mans in his Ferrari 488 (1:22.975). Dirk Muller placed his Ford GT second in GTLM (1:23.047) and Toni Vilander claimed third in his Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 (1:23.307).

The three-day event got underway with overcast skies and cool air greeting the 18-car P/GTLM field. Low track temperatures meant the Continental-shod Prototypes and Michelin-shod GTLMs had limited grip, and most cars were seen understeering or oversteering through the slow and medium-speed corners.

Other than a brief off by one DP, the session was clean. The only noticeable mechanical issue present was the Mazda Prototype of Miller and teammate Tom Long, who were missing spark to some of the turbocharged engine's four cylinders before the team made changes to its electrical system.

Up Next: FP1 for IMSA's split PC/GT Daytona class from 10:50-11:50 a.m. PT.

The World Motor Sport Council has ratified the engine proposal put forward by the Formula 1 Commission, paving the way for its enforcement next year.

Autosport revealed earlier on Friday that F1 bosses had come to an agreement on cost, availability of supply, performance convergence and noise of engines. The FIA has now confirmed the proposal will be included in the technical and sporting regulations for the 2017 and 2018 world championships.

"The FIA is pleased to announce that, following extensive work done in conjunction with the four power unit manufacturers involved in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, and with the support of the commercial rights holder, a global agreement on power units has been reached for the 2017-2020 period," said an FIA statement. "The agreement has been approved by all levels of the F1 governance structure, including the World Motor Sport Council. It will now be included as technical and sporting regulations for the 2017 and 2018 FIA Formula 1 world championship.

"The global agreement on power units covers four key areas relating to the cost and supply price, obligation to supply, performance convergence and the sound of the power units."

The move is seen as a success for the FIA, which has been pushing extensively for cost reductions.

Originally on Autosport.com

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