SauberC36Ferrari Front Low MidRes

SauberC36Ferrari Front Low MidResSauber has launched its 2017 car – the Ferrari-powered C36 – and a revised livery ahead of pre-season testing next week.

While Williams became the first team to release a rendering of its car on Friday, Sauber’s is the first of the 2017 designs to be seen in the flesh. The new car was launched online on Monday morning and will run during a filming day at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this week.C5GomQnWcAEMAAV.jpg large

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The C36 shows the impact of the new regulations with a wider and angled front wing, lower and swept-back rear wing, while a shark fin is used on the engine cover. The car will be powered by a year-old Ferrari power unit, with Sauber in its last year of its power unit deal before a likely switch to a new supplier.

Technical director Jorg Zander says Sauber has been able to take advantage of a known quantity in terms of the power unit, saying last year’s Ferrari is “a tried and tested system with higher durability to begin with.

"Being able to get started early and defining the engine environment was an advantage because the team was familiar with the engine and the transmission as well as the cooling requirements the engine entailed," Zander added.

The car will be driven by Marcus Ericsson and Mercedes youngster Pascal Wehrlein this season, though Wehrlein will miss at least the first test with a back injury. Ferrari third driver Antonio Giovinazzi is set to replace the German in Barcelona next week.

 

Daytona67The headline in The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin said it all: "All of Dixie Mourns Andretti Victory."

Fifty years ago the hottest thing in open wheel racing left the stock car fraternity in his wake with a stunning, if not demoralizing, victory in NASCAR's Holy Grail.

Mario Daytona Win Newspaper"It was very satisfying, no question, because obviously stock cars weren't my specialty," said Mario Andretti reflecting on his 1967 Daytona 500 triumph. "It would have been like Richard Petty coming to Indy and winning on our turf.

"It was a sense of pride for me and, quite honestly, it gets bigger every year because drivers just don't jump around to different disciplines like we did back then."

Andretti's rookie run at Daytona the year before for Smokey Yunick was hardly memorable as he started 39th and crashed out on lap 31. But in '67 he returned with a first-cabin ride on the Holmon-Moody team with Ford backing and NASCAR star Fred Lorenzen as his teammate.

"I didn't have much of an engine in qualifying, so I ran a really low spoiler and you had to race with the setup you qualified with," he continued. "I had a good relationship with Ford so I complained to some folks in Detroit and got a good engine for the race."

Starting 12th, he stormed into the lead by lap 23 and locked horns with David Pearson and Lorenzen (pictured chasing Andretti, top) for the rest of the afternoon. But his very low-downforce setup caused him to run loose on the high-banked track and all the experts waited on the crash.

"I don't think I turned left all day," he said with a laugh. "I had to run high and I had to try and lead because the thing was really loose if I followed anybody. I was pinching it and smoking the right-rear tire going into Turn 1 and let the car run up the hill.

"I knew what I was doing but I think if confused my competition because I was always going for the lead. I had a great time racing with Pearson before he dropped out."

Parnelli Jones knew a thing or two about stock cars and all about USAC's multi-talented Andretti.

"Some of the drivers and officials said Mario was dangerous and was going to crash driving a car so loose," said Jones, who scored four NASCAR wins during his illustrious career. "What they didn't know was that loose was the fast way around Daytona and that Mario had great car control."

The 27-year-old wunderkind led 120 of the 200 laps – including the final 33 – but it wasn't without a little political drama. He came in leading on his final pit stop on lap 163 but went out second behind Lorenzen after a very "slow" stop.

"It was intentional, for sure – they left me up on the jack until Freddie was almost in Turn 1 and I was furious," he continued. "I mean, I get it – he was the golden boy of NASCAR at that time and they had a lot more interest in him winning than me.

"But I got back up to speed and caught him in a couple laps and that was that."

Jones still shakes his head at what transpired that day. "I don't think I've ever seen a team not wanting its driver to win and they tried to keep the win from Mario. But he just out-drove them and won it on his own – with no help needed.

"Open-wheel racing knew he was a keeper and after that NASCAR knew it too."

The 76-year-old legend from Nazareth, Pa. will be in Daytona as the honorary race official next weekend and still cherishes the accomplishment that made him the only driver to ever win the Indy 500, F1 championship and Daytona 500.

"I hadn't won Indy yet so at that time it was arguably the biggest win of my career," said the 1969 Indy victor. "It was special then and it still is today."

 H7I0481Christian Horner believes Red Bull can give Mercedes "a hard time" this season if Renault's new power unit delivers a clear step forward in performance.

Renault struggled with its power unit in 2015, leading Red Bull to seek a new engine partner before having to remain with the French manufacturer last year. 2016 saw a clear improvement, however, and Horner says Renault has worked on a completely new concept for the coming season that could allow Red Bull to take the fight to Mercedes.

"It's a brand-new engine for this year, a change of philosophy," Horner said. "They've had a big winter; we're hoping for a step in performance and if that's delivered then hopefully we can really be a challenger team this year and give the Mercedes and Ferraris a hard time.

"Mercedes for sure, they're the world champions – triple world champions – they're the team to beat. They set the bar pretty high but that's what we're aspiring to. Hopefully we can be a real challenger team. I think the driver line-up we have is fantastic, we've had great stability in the team and we're excited about the year ahead."

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Having won two races in 2016, Horner says Red Bull's progress last year has led to increased expectations during the off-season.

"Well, we went into the winter on a real high. Momentum definitely built during the course of last year. We developed the car well, we raced well, strategically we were strong. It's also a clean sheet of paper and that for any designer or engineer is a really exciting challenge. A few years ago, in 2009, there was a double diffuser. Is there a gizmo like that we've missed and somebody else has found? Hopefully not and hopefully we will be competitive."

In terms of the new car, Horner can only judge it on its looks at this stage but is excited by what Red Bull's technical team has managed to produce.

"I think RB13 is one of the prettiest cars that we've designed and made because the geometry of the car under these new regulations and proportions looks right. It looks mean, it looks fast. There's the old adage that, 'If it looks right it tends to go all right,' and this car for sure looks right."

17DAY1nk05566Chase Elliott will start on the pole for the Daytona 500 for the second consecutive season.

In fact, it will be an all Hendrick Motorsports front row for the 59th annual event as Elliott, the last car to qualify Sunday, knocked his teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., off the top spot. Elliott put down a lap of 192.872 mph over Earnhardt's 192.864 mph. It is the fifth time Hendrick Motorsports has swept the front row at Daytona.

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"This team definitely has a knack for these plate tracks as they showed with Jeff Gordon and then last year with here and Talladega," Elliott said. "But that stuff doesn't just happen by staying the same as everybody knows. Everyone is always trying to get better and make their cars better and faster, and the engine shop is always finding new things.

"So, I think that's just proof that they're improving with everybody else and taking that next step, which is really impressive. I'm happy to be a part of it, and hopefully, we can run good next Sunday."

It is the third consecutive pole for the No. 24 team in the Daytona 500, after earning the award last year with Elliott as a rookie and Jeff Gordon in 2015. Alan Gustafson is just the second crew chief to win three consecutive poles, joining Elliott's uncle, Ernie Elliott, in 1985-'87.

"I didn't know I had two straight until I heard it on the radio today," Gustafson said. "That's pretty good company. That's pretty awesome. Amazing, I didn't think we had a shot at it yesterday (in practice), we just didn't have a lot of speed, struggled for speed, but the guys worked really hard and went through a lot of stuff, a lot of data, and worked on the car and made it happen. So, we're proud of them."

Elliott and Earnhardt are the only two drivers who have locked in their starting positions for next Sunday's event. The remainder of the 40-car field will be determined in the two Can-Am Duel races Thursday night.

Although their starting positions are still to be determined, both Brendan Gaughan and Elliott Sadler know they will race in the Daytona 500. As two of the six open (teams without a charter) cars, Gaughan and Sadler out-qualified their competition to lock into the race on speed.

Timmy Hill, Corey LaJoie, DJ Kennington, and Reed Sorenson will fight for the final two spots in the Daytona 500 in the duel races.

17DAY1mt1281Mission accomplished for Daniel Suarez.

Before the green flag for the Clash at Daytona International Speedway, the No. 19 radio preached to its driver about learning for next weekend. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie then worked brilliantly with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates and brought home an eighth-place finish after getting shuffled out of the top three late in the race.

"It was good," Suarez said of the experience. "These guys are definitely aggressive, and they race hard when they wave the green flag, and I feel like I learned a lot. I feel like it was a very productive race for me, for my team, and hopefully, we can put everything that we learned on the table for next week."

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Eligible to run the Clash in place of the retired Carl Edwards, it was Suarez's first taste of Cup Series competition ahead of his official debut in the Daytona 500.

After starting 16th, Suarez spent the 75-lap event drafting with his teammates, which included pacing restarts to allow each driver to fall in line and learning how the air works while sitting second to Denny Hamlin through most of the second half of the event.

Suarez said he felt the JGR drafting plan worked perfectly, as all four drivers sat inside the top five with five laps to go. It wasn't until the Team Penske cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano began working together that an opportunity at victory disappeared.

Still, Suarez was able to pad his notebook for the rest of Speedweeks with information such as how the car begins to handle when tires start to fall off. In the draft, Suarez also put himself in different positions to see what moves he would be able to make.

suarezWhile Cup racing might be new to Suarez, he does have familiar in one area. Chris "Crazy" Osborne will continue to serve as his spotter after the two worked together last year in the Xfinity Series. However, it came about through some shuffling since Osborne was Matt Kenseth's spotter on the Cup side.

Hearing Osborne in his ear Sunday went a long way in getting off to a good start.

"That was a big thing, definitely a big deal," Suarez said. "I have to thank Matt, who gave me the opportunity to work with (Osborne), I feel like that's a big deal. English isn't my first language, so (Osborne) can understand my English and I can understand his."

After taking a survey of his clean racecar on pit road following the checkered flag, Suarez was given a high-five by his crew chief, Dave Rogers. One race down, many more to go.

"Definitely a good race for me – I learned a lot," Suarez said. "The car's in one piece, and I feel like I got a lot of good information for next weekend. That was the goal, and I think we got to that point."

levitt hamlincrash1Joey Logano's fortune came at the misfortune of his Team Penske teammate.

Logano was victorious in the postponed Clash at Daytona International Speedway Sunday with a last-lap pass. Teammate Brad Keselowski got into the left-rear quarterpanel of Denny Hamlin in Turn 2 while attempting to take the lead. When the two collided, Logano drove by on the outside from third place.

"It's cool to win the Clash," Logano said in victory lane. "We came close last year, and it's really neat to be in victory lane and a good start to our day."

With the race being rained out on Saturday night, it leads into qualifying for the Daytona 500, which follows this afternoon.

levitt keslead

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Logano and Keselowski worked their way into contention over the final five laps by picking off the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers. As has become custom at the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway, the Gibbs car immediately found each other when the race began to form their own drafting line.

Led by Hamlin and rookie Daniel Suarez, the Toyotas dominated the second half of the Clash and at one point were running first through fourth. The final restart with 11 laps to go saw multiple drivers attempt, but fail, to break up the Gibbs line.

With Logano behind him, Keselowski was able to jump to the outside and began disrupting the air just enough to start overtaking them for position. Hamlin led 48 of the races 75 laps while Keselowski, who started from the pole, led 18 laps early in the event.

"Once you make contact the banking kind of wedges you two together," Keselowski said. "It's unfortunate. I had to make the move. I know all the other drivers are back watching and they know not to make that block on me again."

 DSC2543The victory was the first for Logano in the Clash in his ninth start. His previous best finish was second last season. Logano is the 2015 winner of the Daytona 500.

"The Toyotas are so selfless, I guess is the way to look at it," Logano said. "They're able to work together and think of one car winning, and they're really good at that. We had to think the same way as Ford and with Stewart-Haas (Racing) and Penske cars and we were able to get a good enough run to work together enough to break them up and make the passes and then there at the end was kind of a mess.

"Everything was going really fast. Everything was going on, and I was just in the right place at the right time."

There were four cautions during the event. Two involved seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, whose Chevrolet broke loose off Turn 4 on lap 18 and lap 49.

During the first incident, Johnson hit Kurt Busch in the right-rear quarterpanel, sending the No. 41 Ford head-on into the outside wall. The second incident ended Johnson's day when he spun by himself and made contact with the inside SAFER barrier near the entrance to pit road.

RESULTS:

P Driver MfgStart LapsLed TimeBehind 
1   #22 Joey Logano   Ford 9   75 3   46.673 Leader  
2   #18 Kyle Busch   Toyota 13   75 6   47.737 1.120  
3   #88 Alex Bowman   Chevrolet 8   75 0   47.657 1.139  
4   #10 Danica Patrick   Ford 12   75 0   47.636 1.186  
5   #4 Kevin Harvick   Ford 7   75 0   48.419 1.965  
6   #2 Brad Keselowski   Ford 1   75 18   49.083 2.234  
7   #24 Chase Elliott   Chevrolet 14   75 0   48.819 2.287  
8   #19 Daniel Suarez   Toyota 16   75 0   48.957 2.440  
9   #37 Chris Buescher   Chevrolet 17   75 0   50.893 4.552  
10   #1 Jamie McMurray   Chevrolet 3   75 0   52.366 6.025  
11   #20 Matt Kenseth   Toyota 15   75 0   54.368 8.045  
12   #3 Austin Dillon   Chevrolet 4   75 0   54.982 8.355  
13   #11 Denny Hamlin   Toyota 2   74 48   46.683 1 lap  
14   #42 Kyle Larson   Chevrolet 11   61 0   63.971 14 laps  
15   #78 Martin Truex Jr.   Toyota 5   60 0   46.971 15 laps  
16   #48 Jimmie Johnson   Chevrolet 6   48 0   45.801 27 laps  
17   #41 Kurt Busch   Ford 10   16 0   226.593 59 laps

WEC Shanghai Sunday 158The departure of Gianmaria Bruni from Ferrari's factory GT driver roster was confirmed today after a protracted contract dispute.

Bruni is hotly tipped to be joining the Porsche factory GT team later this year but the terms of his breaking a multi-year Ferrari contract mean that he will not be able to race for a rival marque until July 2017, preventing his addition to a full season line-up in any championship this season.

bruniEx-Minardi F1 driver Bruni has been racing Ferrari GT cars since 2007 with considerable success, including three class victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours (2008, 2012 and 2014), double championship wins in the GTE class of the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2013 and '14 and the class championship title in 2011's Le Mans Series. He has been a near ever-present in the WEC, missing only one race since 2012 and scoring 12 class victories and a further 13 podium finishes.

However, Bruni has been unsettled at Ferrari in recent months, despite successfully negotiating a multi-year contract to stay with the marque's factory GT program at the start of 2016.

He is to be replaced in the AF Corse Ferrari team in the FIA WEC by fellow Italian Alessandro Pier Guidi, now confirmed as a Ferrari factory driver, who will share the drive in the team's #51 Ferrari 488 GTE with ex-GP2 star James Calado. The Briton raced alongside Bruni in 2016 (pictured). The team's second WEC entry will remain in the hands of Italian Davide Rigon and Briton Sam Bird.

Pier Guidi is a long-time favorite of AF Corse and recently took part in a driver shoot-out for the vacant seat together with former IMSA racer Alex Riberas, ex-DTM star Miguel Molina and GP3 standout Nyck de Vries.

The 33-year-old Pier Guidi arrives on the factory roster after a career that has thus far seen more than 30 GT race victories across Europe, North America and Asia in some 200 race starts, mostly aboard Ferrari machinery – including a win at the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona in a GTD-spec Ferrari 458.

VF16 at speed 318One year on from its debut as America's first Formula 1 team in decades, Haas F1 prepares to embark on its sophomore campaign with cautious optimism. Haas will take the wraps off its 2017 challenger next Sunday ahead of the start of preseason testing in Barcelona, and team owner Gene Haas reckons it is reasonable to expect an improvement on the team's promising first season, which yielded an eighth-place finish in the constructor's standings.

"I think with the knowledge we have, we should actually perform a little bit better this year," said Haas. "If we can do a little bit better because our business model in Formula 1 allows us to operate more efficiently, we might be able to move up a position or two."

Team principal Guenther Steiner added that the second year of working with the team's suppliers ought to yield greater efficiencies in the design and build process. Haas purchases as many parts as is allowed under the regulations from Ferrari, including the power unit, gearbox. and suspension. The team also uses Italian manufacturer Dallara to design and produce its chassis.

RG in garage 608"Last year we went into this not knowing a lot of things because we hadn't experienced them. Now, we know a lot more and we can organize it a lot better because there are a lot less question marks," said Steiner. "We started last summer to make improvements and to see where we were weak and where we had problems, and we addressed them with our suppliers and our partners. We had very good, constructive discussions about the areas we could improve. We found areas of potential where we could do better and everybody upped their game."

The 2017 cars feature a new aerodynamic package to suit F1's revised regulations that will create a higher level of downforce via a longer nose, wider front wing, larger barge boards, the sidepods being pushed out, a lower and wider rear wing and a diffuser that expands 50 millimeters (two inches) in height and width. Augmenting these changes are wider tires from Pirelli, by 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) in the front and 80 millimeters (3.1 inches) in the rear.

Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen have changed their training practices in preparation for the new cars, adding additional weight lifting to their workouts, with the expectation that added strength will be needed to muscle their cars on tracks where a handful of corners will be taken flat out, thanks to the heightened levels of downforce. An example of this will be seen at Barcelona's Turn 3, where some estimates have drivers taking the corner 30 kph (19 mph) faster than in 2016. The downforce available on the 2017 cars means engines that once ran at full throttle for 50 percent of a lap at Barcelona could increase to 70 percent.

"The cars are going to be heavier, so we can afford to put on a bit of muscle," said Grosjean, who scored all of Haas's 29 points in 2016. "We’re going to go through more g-forces, so the neck needs to be stronger and the core has to be stronger. Your whole body needs to adjust to those high speeds."

Magnussen Banbury I 900While admitting he was unsure how more physical the 2017 cars would be to drive, Magnussen (pictured) added that it was sensible to assume the most dramatic predictions were accurate.

"It’s a bit difficult as we don’t really know 100 percent how fast these cars will be, but the expectation is that they will be much faster than the previous generation of car," noted Magnussen, who joins Haas this year from Renault. "The best thing is to just prepare as well as you can and if anything, overdo it.

"Before, you were designing your training program to not gain any weight; now we’ve relaxed that a little bit and we’re able to train harder with more strength-focused training rather than just long cardio sessions."

Magnussen will drive for the team on the first two days of testing in Barcelona on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 27-28, with Grosjean taking over for the third and fourth days.

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