R3I6890Jenson Button has backed the FIA's clampdown on defensive driving, although he believes that it is merely a formalization of an understanding that existed between most drivers already.

The FIA issued a notice to teams ahead of tomorrow's U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas stating in part that "no car may be a manner which could be potentially dangerous to other drivers," and prohibiting "any maneuver ... liable to hinder other drivers, such as ... any abnormal change of direction."

button esteban"I think there's always been an understanding that it's incorrect to move in the braking zone when somebody's trying to overtake, because when you're trying to overtake, everything is on the limit – you're pushing the boundaries," Button said.

"But as soon as somebody moves in front of you and takes the space you were aiming for, you're screwed – you're either going to go over the top of them, or you're going to end up in the barriers. So it's common sense more than anything else, and in 15 years of racing, I never really had any issues. It's only been the last couple of years. So now they've clarified it, and I'm happy about that."

McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso also welcomed the clarification, although the Spaniard is skeptical about how consistently it will be enforced.

"In football [soccer], when you hit the ball with your hand inside the area, it's a penalty," he said. "And sometimes the referee gives the penalty, and sometimes not. This... it was clear before. And sometimes they'd give the penalty, and sometimes they didn't give anything."

The rule clarification takes effect immediately.

 31I1580 edited

Lewis Hamilton beat Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg to pole position for the United States Grand Prix, as Mercedes stretched out an advantage over the opposition in qualifying.

Red Bull looked fast in free practice, but it couldn't live with Mercedes in qualifying, where Hamilton pumped in a stunning 1m34.999s lap to bag pole.

The reigning world champion did his damage through the first sector, where he was almost three tenths faster than Rosberg, who ran wide at Turn 1 on both of his Q3 laps.

Rosberg, who briefly held top spot due to finishing his lap before his teammate, was still fast enough to set the second-quickest time, almost three tenths clear of Daniel Ricciardo in the best of the Red Bulls.

Max Verstappen was fourth, ahead of Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. The Mercedes drivers and Verstappen will start the race on soft tires after all making it through Q2 on that compound.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh fastest for Force India, well clear of the remaining top 10 runners. Hulkenberg was in superb form, lapping inside the top six in the first two segments of the session. He was also the only non-Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari driver to break into the 1m36s.

Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa headed an impressive performance from the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. in rounding out the top 10.

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Hulkenberg's Force India teammate Sergio Perez missed out on making Q3 by just over a tenth of a second.

Fernando Alonso's McLaren-Honda was six hundredths of a second further back in 12th, ahead of the second Toro Rosso of newly re-signed Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez's Haas, and Jolyon Palmer's Renault.

Marcus Ericsson completed a cursory run on old tires in Q2 so wound up 16th fastest, after lapping quicker than both Gutierrez and Palmer in Q1.

Palmer complained about his final Q1 run being a "disaster" as he held up Jenson Button's McLaren on his out-lap, but the Renault still made it through to Q2.

Button was furious to drop out in Q1, after encountering the Renault entering the final corner of his best lap. The 2009 world champion ended up a lowly 19th in his McLaren-Honda, fractionally behind Romain Grosjean's Haas and Kevin Magnussen's Renault, which both also missed the cut.

Pascal Wehrlein recovered from binning his Manor in the gravel in final practice to qualify 20th fastest, ahead of Felipe Nasr  who complained about his Sauber's brakes  and Manor teammate Esteban Ocon.


1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.999ss 1m34.999s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m35.215ss 0.216s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m35.509ss 0.510s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m35.747ss 0.748s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m36.131ss 1.132s
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m36.358ss 1.359s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m36.628ss 1.629s
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m37.116ss 2.117s
9 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m37.269ss 2.270s
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m37.326ss 2.327s
11 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m37.353ss 2.354s
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m37.417ss 2.418s
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m37.480ss 2.481s
14 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m37.773ss 2.774s
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m37.935ss 2.936s
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m39.356ss 4.357s
17 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m38.308ss 3.309s
18 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m38.317ss 3.318s
19 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m38.327ss 3.328s
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m38.548ss 3.549s
21 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m38.583ss 3.584s
22 Esteban Ocon Manor/Mercedes 1m38.806ss 3.807s


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The FIA is prepared to punish "potentially dangerous" defensive maneuvers in Formula 1 in a clampdown ahead of the United States Grand Prix.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen's driving this year, in particular, has been in the spotlight, with many of his rivals unhappy with the way he sometimes moves under braking. While Verstappen has not faced any sanctions for his driving, the FIA has issued a clarification over defending, which applies with immediate effect from Sunday's race at Circuit of the Americas.

In event notes issued to the teams, one section reads: "Article 27.5 of the sporting regulations states ' car may be a manner which could be potentially dangerous to other drivers...'.

"Furthermore, article 27.8 prohibits any maneuver'...liable to hinder other drivers, such as...any abnormal change of direction.

"With this in mind, and with the exception of any move permitted by Article 27.6, any change of direction under braking which results in another driver having to take evasive action will be considered abnormal and hence potentially dangerous to other drivers. Any such move will be reported to the stewards."

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The FIA has also clarified rules governing blue flags, a point that was raised in a lengthy discussion during the drivers' briefing on Friday.

The event notes stated: "Article 27.9 of the sporting regulations requires drivers who are caught by another car about to lap him to allow the faster driver past at the first available opportunity.

"The F1 marshalling system has been developed in order to ensure that the point at which a driver is shown blue flags is consistent, rather than trusting the ability of marshals to identify situations that require blue flags. While this has been largely successful, the way in which teams and drivers use the system seems to have become inconsistent.

"From now onwards the system will be set to give a pre-warning when the faster car is within 3.0s of the car about to be lapped. This should be used by the team of the slower car to warn their driver he is soon going to be lapped and that allowing the faster car through should be considered a priority.

"When the faster car is within 1.0s of the car about to be lapped blue flags will be shown to the slower car (in addition to blue cockpit lights and a message on the timing monitors) and the driver must allow the following driver to overtake at the first available opportunity.

"Additional instructions may also be given by race control when necessary."


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DJ5R7618Daniil Kvyat will remain at Toro Rosso alongside Carlos Sainz Jr for 2017, the team has confirmed.

The Russian's future had been the subject of much speculation following his demotion from Red Bull's main team prior to this year's Spanish Grand Prix, with names such as GP2 frontrunner Pierre Gasly having been connected to the drive.

However the team announced on Saturday that its line-up will remain unchanged next year.

"I'm very happy to stay with a team that feels like home to me," said Kvyat, who made his F1 debut with Toro Rosso in 2014. "I'm really looking forward to continuing the hard work together in 2017 and I'm really aiming high. I will always be fully dedicated, giving my 200 percent, and I will be pushing as hard as I usually do."

Team principal Franz Tost said that continuity on the driver front will be an asset to Toro Rosso as it prepares for a raft of major rule changes next year.

"There are so many new elements coming to Formula 1 in general and to our team specifically, in terms of the change of power unit supplier [switching from Ferrari to Renault], that having the same two drivers gives us stability and a benchmark to work from," he said.

"In recent races, it has been clear that Daniil is back on top form. I always told him that his future with us was in his hands and he has stepped up to the mark and delivered the sort of performances that have ensured his 2017 seat.

"We now have a very talented and strong driver pairing to tackle a season in which we expect to be very competitive. For Carlos, it will be his third year with us, which speaks volumes when it comes to how highly we rate him."


 SLA7344Kevin Magnussen has ruled out a move to IndyCar in 2017, although he admits that he is keeping his options open in case he is unable to find a way to remain in F1.

Renault's option on the Dane is understood to have passed, leaving him free to look elsewhere for next year, although he remains hopeful of staying on with the team alongside Nico Hulkenberg, who will move across from Force India.

One of Magnussen's options was to follow in Alexander Rossi's footsteps by moving from F1 into IndyCar with Andretti Autosport. Asked by RACER whether he would be open to the move, the 24-year-old said that he is in contact with the team, but insisted that IndyCar is not on his horizon for next year.

"I went [to Andretti Autosport] at the beginning of 2015; I went to Indianapolis to visit them and talk to them," he said. "I talk to the guys there because I like them, and I support them, and I follow IndyCar, but there is nothing serious going on, and I don't intend to be in IndyCar next year."


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Several F1 seats remain open for next year, including the one at Force India that will be vacated by Hulkenberg. Magnussen admitted that he is casting a wide net, but insists that remaining with Renault is his priority.

"There are options; there are seats available, and we're talking to all of the options," he said. "There's no reason not to talk to people. But it's no more than talking. I want to be here next year, I hope I will be, and I feel I should be. And that's my target. I'm trying as much as I can to let other people do the work in the background and then I need to do my job on the track.

"Whatever I've been through over the last few years, it has been tough, and right now it's tough again. But I feel like it's worth it. I think this team is a place where I can eventually, in future fight for world championships. So the tough times at the moment will be worth it if it works out. There's no reason to give up. It's probably tougher than it should be, but I'm sure it will be worth it."

Prior to his season with Renault, Magnussen raced with McLaren in 2014 before being demoted to test/reserve driver for 2015, and dropped altogether before the end of the season. He tested a Mercedes DTM car and Porsche's LMP1 over the winter before landing the Renault seat, and said that he is being more aggressive in pursuing opportunities this time around to avoid being left stranded.

"One of the mistakes I did with McLaren was to not talk with anyone else because I thought I had the seat, and I had strong indications from them that I did have the seat," he said. "So I didn't feel like I needed to talk to anyone else.

"This year I've learned from that mistake and I've tried to make sure that I won't be in the situation that I can't race anything. So for sure I'm in a better position than I was back then."

JGS 6686 1Just when you thought that the Verizon IndyCar Series had run out of ways to surprise, 2016 came along. The championship was won by a guy who looked all at sea 12 months earlier, his closest rival didn't even participate in the first race, and the winner of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was a recent F1 refugee who apparently figured out how to make a car work without fuel.

Twenty-four drivers made at least three starts during the 2016 season, and each one is a story. Join RACER each day as we retrace their journeys.



Preseason hopes: "Do my best and being aware that I did whatever I could regardless of the result, because sometimes the results don’t come.

2016 Best result: 2nd (Road America)
2016 Championship position: 7th (461 points)

Kanaan didn’t win a race, but he was consistent enough to finish just seven points behind two-time 2016 race-winner Scott Dixon. Is he becoming Ganassi’s answer to Helio Castroneves?

PRUETT: That’s a great way of putting it, but I’m sure it would piss TK off. Kanaan’s consistency is great to see after a few too many up and down seasons with midfield teams prior to landing with Ganassi, and I don’t expect it to change. The only area he’ll want to split from his old friend is the winless streak that dates back to Fontana 2014.

MILLER: Like his Brazilian buddy, it's been a couple of years since TK made it to victory lane but they're both still plenty competitive. Five times in the Fast Six is a good indicator of pace as well, and Ganassi was second tier to Penske everywhere, so he did a good job as Dixon's wingman.

Could he have gotten any more out of his season?

16C 1885 1PRUETT: Of course. The Ganassi team was a distant No. 2 to Penske, and trailed behind Ed Carpenter Racing, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the standings, but that shouldn’t be seen as an excuse for Dixon to be the only CGR entry to win last season. The Kiwi took both of Ganassi’s wins, and if there’s someone to put another victory on the board, Kanaan’s the guy. We know Dixon had most of the bad luck fall his way, but even when he was out of contention, I don’t recall many races where TK was in a strong position to win. If Road America went five more laps, the conversation would be different - but it wasn’t, so it isn’t.

The frustrating part is it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what was missing. Known as one of the elite race-day performers in the series, TK earned his reputation as a passing machine by turning poor-ish qualifying positions into strong finishes. What we found last season was a bit different. His qualifying performances were quite good at most events, but in the race, there wasn’t a lot of forward progress.

He started inside the top 10 in 11 of 16 races. He made the Firestone Fast Six in six of 11 road/street course events. Altogether, through all 16 races, his average starting position was 8.8. The problem was TK’s average finishing position was also 8.8. It’s easier for a fast driver to pick off the tail-enders from a lowly starting position than to start fifth and motor past the four psychos leading the field.

Now that TK is starting in the thick of the championship contenders, finding a way to advance on the road and street courses is the obvious puzzle to solve.

MILLER: He needed one more of lap of green at Road America and he'd have run down Will Power (who was saving fuel) for the victory. He lost the thriller in Texas by a car length (he finished third), and who knows what would have happened if Indy (he ran fourth) was a shootout instead of an economy run?

It’s hard to see how much scope there is for Kanaan to get faster, but were there any signs in 2016 to suggest that his performance has started to go in the other direction?

MILLER: Not at all. As mentioned, qualifying on a street or road course is more about the driver than ovals and, other than a couple of misses at St. Pete and Mid-Ohio, TK was right in the mix, and especially impressive at Elkhart Lake. And you know he's still going to be a factor at Indianapolis.

PRUETT: We saw - and he admitted - things had reached a plateau, which is why his friend Dario Franchitti stepped in to help find behaviors and habits to change that would deliver results. TK’s motivation to improve and be the best version of himself has never waned, and with his recent effort to find some of the fractions of time that were missing in the braking zones and on corner exit, I think we’ll see a faster driver next year - at the age of 42.

16C 9536 1


Mikhail Aleshin
Marco Andretti
Sebastien Bourdais

Ed Carpenter
Helio Castroneves
Gabby Chaves
Max Chilton
Conor Daly
Scott Dixon
RC Enerson
Luca Filippi
James Hinchcliffe
Ryan Hunter-Reay

ParkerChase 8159 RSJSome of the Pirelli World Challenge's star drivers on the track aren't old enough to drive on the street

When Nate Stacy won his first GTS race at Sonoma Raceway in his Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Boss 302 (bottom of page) with Parker Chase in the Performance Motorsports Ginetta (above) second, it marked perhaps the youngest top two in World Challenge history. Stacy is 16, just old enough to get a license to drive on the street. Chase is 15, so he can't even drive home from the track. There are others – 15-year-old Henry Morse races in Touring Car B (below) and won two races this season; even in GT there are several drivers who can't spray champagne yet, such as 18-year-old Austin Cindric.

HenryMorse 8379 RSJThe GTS win at Sonoma wasn't Stacy's first World Challenge win, either – he won in TCB at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park two years ago at 14. And further proving that these young drivers aren't just getting lucky once in a while, Stacy had eight podium finishes, divided equally between second and third, and ended up second in the GTS points. Chase was fourth in the points and named Rookie of the Year in the GTS class.

There was a time not so long ago that a driver under 18 couldn't even get a competition license to race in SCCA competition. But, like in many sports, they're starting younger and younger, and often coming in with more experience than some of their older counterparts thanks to karting.

"I was the youngest driver in SCCA history at the time to get a license, and that was in 1971," says Dorsey Schroeder, the 1989 Trans-Am champion who now serves as race director for Pirelli World Challenge. "You look at the kids nowadays that are 16 and they've come out of karting, they're coming with experience, and it's proven a pretty good thing so far."

Not everyone is always welcoming at first, though, notes Stacy. "I think I've even told other drivers that are younger, 'Be ready for discrimination, because the moment you mess up – even if it's not your fault – if you're involved in contact, everyone's going to say, 'He's too young.' Luckily, when I started, we had really good drivers in TCB, probably the strongest field there ever was. We came in when everyone was really strong, everyone was giving each other respect. I was only once ever in one incident in TCB, and I got turned into, which bounced me into another car."

Winning, of course, brings some respect. But even before that, the younger drivers have found that it's possible to earn the respect of the other drivers if you race cleanly.

thumbnail NateStacy podium 8462 RSJ"What happens is if you get the respect of the other drivers, once you do that, they start defending you," says Stacy (right).

Racers of every age are prone to overexuberance, youthful or otherwise. That's where Schroeder comes in:

"I have seen, during the course of the year, these drivers get into trouble," he notes. "At the beginning of the year, there were some tense moments for them. At one point, after they got some confidence, they were over-driving the car. I had to sit down with some of them – and their mothers and fathers – and say, 'Look, it's all good, but right now you're doing yourself a disservice. You're driving too hard  you need to go back to the basics.' Everybody's guilty of that at some point in time. They responded perfectly and we haven't had another problem. I knew they'd be good; they showed talent right away."

Some race series are even talking about allowing drivers as young as 13, but Schroeder admits he has some concerns about that. Still, with racers starting in karting at ever younger ages, they're ready for cars sooner and sooner, so the trend toward more younger drivers isn't likely to slow down.

"I think I've proven everyone wrong and they've gotten used to it," says Stacy. "I feel I've opened the door for Parker and the others to come in, because they have time to come in and they're going to give them a chance. I've proven that it can be done. I think I've helped the cause, but I don't think it's done yet; it can go farther. Everyone is open minded about age."

NateStacy 8369 RSJ

Jenson Button believes Formula 1 should consider switching to shorter races to appeal to a younger audience.

The 2009 world champion accepts hardcore Formula 1 fans would not approve of such a change, but he thinks it is one of the ideas that should be considered because attention spans are getting shorter.

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"There will always be the diehard fans that have watched Formula 1 for 10, 20 years and will watch a whole grand prix, but that's not who we're after," said Button ahead of this weekend's U.S. Grand Prix. "It's the younger fans we need to appeal to, to try and attract them to something for an hour and a half is very difficult.

"People have a short attention span. We're like kids  we can't sit down and do one thing for so long, we have to move on and do something else. I can't sit in front of the TV for an hour and a half and watch a film  I have to be active.

"It's a tough one because Formula 1 is Formula 1, and changing that is a shame because that's the way it has always been. But we need to move with the times if we want the sport to be relevant."

Button said while he can appreciate an interesting F1 race even if it is uneventful, he understands why grands prix are sometimes considered boring.

"When I watch Formula 1, I see a race that's exciting," he said. "Other people might look at it and say, 'Well there are a few overtaking moves, but in an hour and a half there is 10 minutes of action!'

"That's why I find it exciting, because when those moves happen it's amazing that driver has put everything on the line. But 10 minutes of action in an hour and a half is not enough for most people, and I can understand that.

"Short races, short sports are on the up. For example, people love sprint track and field because it's a short burst of energy.

"I've never watched a Tour de France stage [in cycling, which goes on for several hours], but I've recorded a Tour de France stage and watched the last 10 minutes.

"F1 needs to attract a younger audience, but how you go about doing that is a lot more difficult."


Originally on

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