Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen "got himself confused" in the build-up to the pit blunder that sparked his United States Grand Prix downfall.

Verstappen was running a comfortable fourth at Circuit of The Americas, and was in the hunt for a podium when he made an unscheduled second pit stop at the end of lap 26.

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With the pit crew unaware, Verstappen lost nearly 13 seconds, and when asked what happened over the radio, he replied: "I thought you boxed me. Sorry."

Three laps later, the 19-year-old was forced to retire with a gearbox failure.

"He thought he heard a call the previous lap but got himself confused," Horner said. "It's something that is totally unusual. He just arrived in the pitlane and said, 'I'm in the pitlane!' We're not very good at fitting tires when we don't know he's coming in."

Asked what he thought Verstappen heard, Horner said: "He hadn't heard anything on that lap, so it was basically the previous lap. He had been told to push, which was to close the gap to Nico [R,osberg] because we were going to try for the undercut on him."

However Horner said even that could not have been construed as an instruction to pit.

"It was the lap before, so he would've driven past the pits," he said. "It came from nowhere.

"It's a shame a shame for him because his race was very strong. He put a great move on Kimi [Raikkonen], and up until lap 25 it was going well, but ultimately it came to nothing because of the DNF."

Verstappen's failure played into the hands of Mercedes and compromised his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who was on target for second place behind Lewis Hamilton.

When Verstappen finally pulled off track after touring for most of a lap, Mercedes brought both drivers in for their second stops on lap 31 during the ensuing virtual safety car period.

Ricciardo had already made his second stop six laps earlier, and was jumped by Rosberg, who went on to finish second.

"It's a case of what could've been," Horner surmised. "If things had gone right, we would've had track position to Nico, who would've fitted the softer tire on lap 36 or 37. Then we would've had a pace advantage and he would've had to fight for second place on track instead of being gifted it through the virtual safety car.

"With a possible chance of the undercut on Nico with Max, that meant Nico would have had to have passed both cars, albeit with a tire advantage."


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Anderson LeDuc CC 1581 RSJABOVE: RJ Anderson (left) and Kyle Leduc.

It's a long-standing tradition in short course off road, the end-of-year, we're-done-with-these-trucks-for-a-few-months, Pro 2 vs. Pro 4 bash. The Lucas Oil Challenge Cup has a history of wild races, but once this one got started – which took a few tries – the 2016 edition went flag to flag without a caution.

The Pro 4 trucks, about two seconds quicker on a 35- to 37-second lap track, were slated to start 15 seconds in arrears. Some drivers that had a choice of either a Pro 4 or Pro 2 truck made their choice before qualifying, such as Carl Renezeder who had already chosen his Pro 4. Rob MacCachren, however, qualified both trucks, putting both at the top of the time sheets before going with the Pro 4. It's usually a good choice, as the Pro 4s can choose different lines when passing the Pro 2s, but it's one he may be questioning for the offseason because of the way the race played out.

That left Brian Deegan atop the Pro 2 time sheets, followed by Saturday Pro 2 winner RJ Anderson, who would start on pole thanks to a two-position inversion. MacCachren was starting alongside Eric Barron at the front of the Pro 4 field, with Renezeder and Saturday Pro 4 winner (and champion) Kyle LeDuc in the second row.

When the green flag waved for the Pro 2s, the Pro 4s were in between Turns 2 and 3. MacCachren over-rotated in Turn 3, catching up Barron and LeDuc, and Greg Adler and Bradley Morris also got tangled together, bringing out the caution and setting up a full restart.

On the second attempt, Renezeder and Barron got into each other, leading to a second full restart. On both of the attempts, RJ Anderson jumped to the head of the Pro 2s while MacCachren led the Pro 4 field. On the third attempt, however, It was Barron who took command of the Pro 4s as they set about chasing down the Pro 2s.

MacCachren fell to third, with LeDuc chasing Barron. Anderson was leading the Pro 2s, pursued by Deegan's now-bodyless truck until something expired and Deegan was out. Right as the Pro 4s started catching the back of the Pro 2 field, LeDuc found his way past Barron and set about slicing through the Pro 2 field toward the front.

That's exactly what he did, getting up to Anderson with four laps left. It wasn't a pretty pass – perhaps in part because Anderson lost radio communication with his spotter early in the race – but LeDuc got the Monster Energy/Toyo Tires truck to the front and never looked back.

"Coming into the right-hander," said Anderson, "I thought, 'I hear motor. I hope it's a Pro 4, so I'm going down low.' We had some fireworks down in Turn 1 – we got stuck together, I'm glad we got separated. I had no idea how many laps were left; I was going to hold him off as long as I could. But there was no way I was going to fight off Kyle and the four-wheel drive."

Anderson finished second, the top Pro 2 in his Rockstar Energy/Polaris RAZR truck, ahead of Jeremy McGrath, who was third overall. LeDuc scored his third Challenge Cup win, to add to his fourth Pro 4 championship he secured by winning Saturday's race. Despite having to pass 11 racers to get to the front, he said the toughest competitor was the track itself, which had been reconfigured prior to the weekend.

LeDuc CC trophy 4182 RSJ"Every corner it could rip your tire off, it could flip you over," LeDuc (left) said. "I bicycled in the back in Turn 2 behind RJ; I biked it on the infield. I committed like crazy on some of these corners that did not want me to...and it didn't pay me back, it didn't bite me. I did what I could to be smart, haul ass and stay safe. I got up to RJ with three or four laps to go; I could have passed him cleaner, but we got it done. Just epic!"

The other Challenge Cup races were rather tame in comparison. Jerett Brooks, despite finishing second to Brandon Arthur in three races this season at Wild Horse Pass, got out front of the Pro Lite field immediately in his Rigid Industries/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Nissan and stayed there, adding a Challenge Cup win to his championship.

"I got an early lead and just kind of got in my groove," he said. "I knew I wanted to win this, and I knew I needed that $10,000. I pushed hard the whole time. The truck was dialed, and I don't think I made any mistakes, which was good for me."

Sterling Cling (below) had a similar race for the Pro Buggy win in his Cling's Aerospace/ Alumi Craft. He was followed home by Garret George and Kevin McCullough. Nathan Barry won the Mod Kart Challenge Cup race.

Cling ProBuggy 4140 RSJ

Lewis Hamilton secured the 50th victory of his Formula 1 career, leading home championship rival Nico Rosberg in the United States Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion, who has won four times at Circuit of The Americas to add to his 2007 USGP success at Indianapolis, finished 4.5s ahead of Mercedes teammate Rosberg, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo third.

Rosberg's championship lead has been cut to 26 points over Hamilton, but it could have been more as Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen had a shot at upsetting the Mercedes one-two.

Hamilton and Rosberg made clean starts, although Ricciardo took advantage of the wide first corner to get alongside Rosberg, ultimately completing the pass around the outside through Turn 2.

F1 2016 US GP start

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Verstappen, who passed Kimi Raikkonen on lap 12 to claim fourth, then began to push Rosberg who found himself sandwiched between the Red Bull duo. But Verstappen's race unravelled from lap 26 when he mistakenly thought he had been called into the pits, with his crew not ready when he arrived.

Three laps later Verstappen suffered a gearbox failure, and he tried to get his car back to the pits rather than stopping trackside. When he eventually parked, the virtual safety car was deployed, which gave Mercedes pair Hamilton and Rosberg what Ricciardo described as "a free stop."

Having stopped for a second time on lap 25, before the VSC, Ricciardo therefore found himself third, losing what Red Bull estimated to be 10 seconds to Rosberg thanks to the VSC.

From that point on the top three positions were sealed, with Ricciardo safe in third as Raikkonen was on a three-stop strategy and had another stop to make.

Raikkonen's third stop led to the end of his race though, as he pulled away too quickly, with the right-rear tire gun yanked off in the process.

As Raikkonen began to climb up the hill out of the pitlane he was forced to pull over after being told to stop, from where he rolled his car back down the slope and out of harm's way.

Raikkonen was the fourth retirement of the race, with Force India's Nico Hulkenberg first out after a Turn 1 collision with Valtteri Bottas in his Williams, sustaining trackrod damage with his car unable to turn left.

Bottas suffered a right-rear puncture that dropped him to the back of the field, and after an early pit stop he could only manage 16th at the end.

Along with Verstappen, Esteban Gutierrez was the other retiree after 18 laps with what appeared to be a brake problem that led to him going off at Turn 11.

Behind the leading trio, Vettel salvaged fourth for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso fifth for McLaren after passing Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. on the penultimate lap of the 56.

Alonso, though, is under investigation for an incident with Williams's Felipe Massa on lap 54 that led to a front-left puncture for the Brazilian, who managed to hang on to seventh ahead of Sergio Perez. The Mexican suffered a lap one spin after being hit in the rear by Daniil Kvyat, which led to a 10-second time penalty for the Russian who finished 12th.

Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean were ninth and 10th, the latter claiming a point for Haas at the team's maiden home race.


1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 1h38m12.618s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 56 4.520s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 56 19.692s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 56 43.134s
5 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 56 1m33.953s
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 56 1m36.124s
7 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
8 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
9 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 55 1 Lap
10 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
11 Kevin Magnussen Renault 55 1 Lap
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault 55 1 Lap
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
18 Esteban Ocon Manor/Mercedes 54 2 Laps
- Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 38 Retirement
- Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 28 Gearbox
- Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 16 Retirement
- Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1 Collision


1 Nico Rosberg 331
2 Lewis Hamilton 305
3 Daniel Ricciardo 227
4 Sebastian Vettel 177
5 Kimi Raikkonen 170
6 Max Verstappen 165
7 Sergio Perez 84
8 Valtteri Bottas 81
9 Nico Hulkenberg 54
10 Fernando Alonso 52
11 Felipe Massa 49
12 Carlos Sainz 38
13 Romain Grosjean 29
14 Daniil Kvyat 25
15 Jenson Button 21
16 Kevin Magnussen 7
17 Jolyon Palmer 1
18 Pascal Wehrlein 1
19 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
20 Esteban Gutierrez 0
21 Marcus Ericsson 0
22 Felipe Nasr 0
23 Rio Haryanto 0
24 Esteban Ocon 0


1 Mercedes 636
2 Red Bull/Renault 400
3 Ferrari 347
4 Force India/Mercedes 138
5 Williams/Mercedes 130
6 McLaren/Honda 74
7 Toro Rosso/Ferrari 55
8 Haas/Ferrari 29
9 Renault 8
10 Manor/Mercedes 1
11 Sauber/Ferrari 0


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16DEGA2MT1553Joey Logano secured himself a spot in the NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup "Round of 8" with victory at Talladega where he held off competition from Brian Scott and Denny Hamlin.

The unusually uneventful race picked up in the closing laps when two cautions came out for minor incidents, causing the Team Penkse driver to vigorously defend his lead at the restarts and into overtime, getting a helpful boost from Kevin Harvick behind him.

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"We got that track position and just hung onto it," said Logano. "I was able to stay on the bottom and try to run the bottom and keep everyone in line, and that worked out really well. Kevin did a good job with that, which ultimately got us all a great finish. It was fun racing there at the end."

Logano took the spoils despite a penalty for driving an entire lap with a front jack attached to his car after the first set of stops.

Hamlin spent the majority of the race battling with Austin Dillon over the final Chase elimination spot. His third-place finish tied him on points but was the best finish of the two drivers in this round of races and so secured him a place in the next round, eliminating Dillon along with Chase Elliot, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski.

"We needed some things to fall our way if we didn't win the race," Hamlin said. "Today things fell our way. The last lap, we went out and earned it. I think back all the years that I've been doing this, honestly, 11 years.

"For me, I really truly believe this is the first really great fortune that we had in a Chase in my 11-year career. Things just happened well for us. We went out there and we did our jobs. It was very tough to be able to run against guys that had a lot of teammates up front. I knew that was going to be a problem for us all day. But we were able to have just enough there at the end to get past the 41 (Kurt Busch) and get in."

Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammates  Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch  dropped back early in a strategic move to stay out the way of any potential wrecks, and held those positions all race, ensuring they progressed to the next round of the Chase.

Polesitter Truex, who entered the race with a 13-point buffer to the cut-off, continued a run of bad luck when his engine blew on lap 41. Logano's teammate Keselowski struggled with debris for a significant portion of the race, with his engine temperature soaring before he was able to shake it by sacrificing positions early on. Later on Ryan Blaney assisted in removing debris again, but it came too late and Keselowski parked his smoking car on lap 145.

Chase Elliott wasn't able to pull off the win he needed to take his Chevrolet into the next round of the Chase, despite following an eight-car train into the closing stages.


1 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 192
2 Brian Scott Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 192
3 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 192
4 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 192
5 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 192
6 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 192
7 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 192
8 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 192
9 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 192
10 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 192
11 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford 192
12 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 192
13 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 192
14 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 192
15 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 192
16 Michael McDowell Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 192
17 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 192
18 Clint Bowyer HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 192
19 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 192
20 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 192
21 Landon Cassill Front Row Motorsports Ford 192
22 Chris Buescher Front Row Motorsports Ford 192
23 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 192
24 David Ragan BK Racing Toyota 192
25 Regan Smith Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 192
26 Ryan Reed Roush Fenway Racing Ford 192
27 Matt DiBenedetto BK Racing Toyota 192
28 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 192
29 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 192
30 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 192
31 Bobby Labonte Go FAS Racing Ford 192
32 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 192
33 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 192
34 Jeffrey Earnhardt BK Racing Toyota 192
35 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 191
36 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 191
37 Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports Toyota 179
38 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 144
39 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 113
40 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 41

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Fernando Alonso will keep his fifth place in the United States Grand Prix after escaping punishment for banging wheels with Formula 1 rival Felipe Massa in the closing stages.

Alonso, on softer tires, caught sixth-placed Massa, having also gained time from pitting under the virtual safety car. With four laps to go, he dived up the inside into Turn 16, with the pair making contact wheel-to-wheel and Alonso getting ahead while Massa ended up with a puncture.

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"Felipe closed the door on me, I was already alongside him," said the Spaniard on the radio at the time.

The stewards investigated the incident after the race but after speaking to both drivers deemed that no further action was necessary.

"No driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the collision," said the stewards in a statement.

Speaking to reporters before the decision, Alonso said: "It is difficult to overtake on the straight so we try to on the inside, which was very aggressive. Unfortunately, we touch. Luckily we continue on both cars.

"When I did the maneuver, I was side-by-side, I was not one quarter ahead or something like that. It's not like I was coming from behind or it was any crazy thing, so it was not the space for him to turn in."

Massa said: "At the end, Fernando dived into the corner I was taking, hit my car and I got a puncture because of it. It destroyed every opportunity I had to finish the race in sixth, and potentially fifth."

Alonso snatched fifth from Sainz on the penultimate as his countryman struggled with tires he admitted were "finished".

"With Carlos it was easy because you just open the DRS and the Toro Rosso was quite slow on the straight," Alonso said. "It seems like we had the tires in better conditions than the others and we took advantage of that.

"He fitted the soft, we fitted the medium, so I had better tire life at the end of the race and we took advantage of that."


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16DEGA2MT1147Mechanical failures at Talladega delivered the first real shocks of the 2016 Chase when Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski, who had been among the heavy favorites for the title, were eliminated from the championship hunt by engine failures.

Truex's No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota suffered the blow-up on lap 41. Coming into the weekend, Truex had won four races this season, including two of the first three Chase events. The retirement earned him an unwanted place among the four drivers who dropped out of contention when the Chase field was cut from 12 to eight at the checkered flag. Keselowski joined him on the list after his Penske Ford was forced to the garage on lap 144 of 188 after blowing its engine.

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"Just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power," said Truex. "Originally I thought it could have been a tire because it was shaking worse and worse and worse until it was time to pit. I slowed down to hit pit road and felt the vibration still there and knew it was the engine.

"Definitely not the way we wanted today to go  it's a tough way to go out, but proud of the effort and proud of all the guys. The engines have been great all year, and every once in a while you'll have a failure, and it's unfortunate that it was with everything on the line. I don't know, it is what it is and it's racing. It's part of it and we'll move on. We're going to go try to win the last five races or whatever is left and have a good end to our season."

Keselowski was similarly fatalistic after his elimination, which stung all the more for the speed he had shown. The Penske driver had led nine times for a race-best 90 laps before his engine failure.

"We came here to win and we were doing what we needed to do to win, and it just didn't play out," Keselowski told NBCSN. "It just wasn't meant to be.

"We had an incredible car today and I'm really proud of that. Just got to keep pushing and hopefully we can go win these next four (races). I want to finish the season with the most wins and we've got a great shot at that, leading it right now. Cars that ran like this one did today, it'll all work out."

Joining Truex and Keselowski in being eliminated from title contention were Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon, who tied on points with Denny Hamlin but was eliminated by tiebreak.

Lewis Hamilton has called for clarity over Formula 1's "very gray" rules to prevent drivers exploiting uncertainty.

The FIA moved to define two of those gray areas on Saturday ahead of qualifying by issuing updated regulations regarding defensive driving and blue flags.

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Asked if F1 is becoming over-regulated and confusing drivers and fans, Hamilton suggested some areas of the rule remain imprecise and need to be tightened up.

"I don't see the rules being an issue, it's just the rules being very gray," said Hamilton, who used the start of the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago as an example.

"We discussed the start of the last race. The rule has always been we've got to be in the grid spot  you can't be half a car out, half a car in. At the last race, because we had water on our side of the grid, Daniel Ricciardo [who was behind Hamilton in fourth] placed his car two wheels out, two wheels in.

"It needs to be clear because if that is now allowed, and common sense is allowed to prevail, all of us will just do that and you'll see cars staggered all down the grid.

"Now it's never been a rule. If I'd known in the last race I would have also put the car there. We had asked and they said no. If it's inconsistent then some people will exploit, while some people may get penalties and may not. It's just about having very, very clear instructions, consistency."

The FIA recently changed the rules regarding double-waved yellow flags after claims of inconsistency. Drivers are now forced to abort a lap if they encounter such flags rather than just lift significantly, as was previously the case.

"It wasn't very clear, so some people have got away with some things and other people have been penalized," added Hamilton. "It should be the same all the time, so the clearer you make it, the easier it is. You won't try and exploit it.

"You know if there's a yellow flag, it's a lift; you know if there's a double yellow flag, you cannot finish your lap. There's no lift a little bit before and accelerating faster through the corner where the danger zone is and get away with it as people have done."

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Williams ran with what chief technical officer Pat Symonds called an "experimental" front wing in preparation for the 2017 season during Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The front wing will be 150mm wider as part of next year's rule changes, and Williams ran a version of its 2016 wing with the number of fences that channel airflow passing between the front wheels increased from two to four.

"Here and in Mexico we are running with an experimental front wing, but it's experimental rather than development, it's a bit of a correlation exercise," said Symonds. "We ran it in practice on Friday and we'll run it again on Friday in Mexico because we need to get a certain amount of data on it. It correlates well with what we are looking to do, so it's not an advantage to us this year, it's just a thing we want do try for next year."

Symonds added that the wide-ranging rule changes for next season mean most of the parts being worked on cannot be tried on a 2016 car, but the front wing is an exception.

"When you have incremental changes to the rules you are always carrying on in the wind tunnel, developing a car," said Symonds. "You might change the model number, but a lot of what you are doing is relevant. If you come up with something that is really good you say, 'Sod next year! We'll get on with that now!' But then this year, what we're doing in the wind tunnel isn't relevant really.

"Funnily enough, about a month ago we did something on next year's car that worked really well and we thought 'Crikey!'

"We had never tried it on this year's model, so we just quickly put this year's model back in [the wind tunnel] but thought 'That doesn't work at all.'


Originally on

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