91912Spy shots of the 2017 Porsche 919 Hybrid – with which the German marque is set to campaign this year's World Endurance Championship season – have emerged today.

The car, which is set to be officially launched next week at the FIA WEC's Prologue test at Monza, completed a single lap on the tail end of a GT test at the Paul Ricard test circuit in the south of France.

In terms of looks, the differences are immediately noticeable with a larger front fender, headlights and reworked sidepods. It is not yet clear which aero configuration the car pictured is running.

91931This is compared to the 2016 car:

fia wec 2016 prologue
wec 2016 porsche lmp1 launch 0194

This season the team will race with a pair of 919 Hybrids for the full season, including the Le Mans 24 Hours with a refreshed driver squad. Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber return to the LMP1 cockpit for the first time since winning Le Mans in 2015, while Andre Lotterer moves to the team from the now defunct Audi Sport LMP1 effort.

The FIA WEC Prologue test is set to take place April 1-2, where Toyota's new-for-2017 TS050 LMP1 racer will also be officially unveiled on Friday.

bowyer lat auto clubWith a third-place finish in the Auto Club 400, Clint Bowyer headed for a place he hasn’t been in quite a while: A post-race press conference in the media center.

Brad Keselowski, who finished second, was the first to greet Bowyer. As the Stewart-Haas Racing driver made his way to the stage, Keselowski welcomed him with a joke:

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"My man, Clint Bowyer," Keselowski said. "How long has it been since you've been in here after a race?"

There was no malice intended. It has been well documented how far out of the spotlight Bowyer has been for the past year, if not longer. He's been winless since 2013, which is also the last time he's finished higher than 19th in points. During his time spent HScott Motorsports last year, Bowyer earned just three top-10 finishes.

Bowyer broke his dry spell Sunday at Auto Club Speedway with his first top five since the summer race at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2015. The finish was also his second top 10 in five races with Stewart-Haas Racing.

"Just to have the organization behind me, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, my teammates," Bowyer said. "To have these teammates like this, at this point and everything I've been through, you know how fortunate you are when you get this opportunity. Gene Haas and Tony Stewart, getting out of the car and giving me this opportunity, just appreciative of everything."

Stewart was not only on the pit box but also on the 14 radio throughout the day. Although Bowyer was, of course, pumped up about his finish, Stewart offered a simple "good job" after the race.

ACS MENCS Bowyer Suarez 032617"I know he's proud, and he was happy with that, but that's what you want in an owner," Bowyer said.

It was a winning effort from Bowyer and crew chief Mike Bugarewicz. Saturday night, Bowyer spent time in Bugarewicz's hotel room – something he says he's never done with a crew chief looking over all simulation, throttle traces and other possible notes ahead of race day.

A 17th starting spot soon became a minor detail as Bowyer had an average running position of 5.65 throughout the day. At one point, he found himself sitting as high as third. A rash of cautions inside the final 15 laps closed the gap to the leaders and suddenly put Bowyer in a position to perhaps challenge for the victory.

Not surprisingly, Bowyer was eager to try and make something happen.

"All day long the temptation was killing you," Bowyer said. "You could see it; you just couldn't get it. My car was so good, but it was teeter-tottering between too loose in and off the corner and too tight in the middle, and I wanted to free up to try to get it better across the center, but I was afraid to get too loose getting into (Turn) 3 because I was having trouble there on the long run.

"I was just kind of stuck in a box. This is one that you'll think about on the way home, should I have freed up a little bit, what would it have done? Would that give me an advantage that I didn't have? But that's racing. There's so much that goes into it."

Keselowski auto club gettyWith a car that looked like it had just run at Martinsville instead of Auto Club Speedway, Brad Keselowski somehow finished second in the Auto Club 400.

"We were tore all to hell," Keselowski said. "Gosh, that's unfortunate. Got tore up there really early in the race. Went all the way to the back, just clawed all the way up to second. I don't know if we had anything for Kyle (Larson, the winner) and those guys. Car was tore up pretty bad. To get that kind of finish is respectable. Certainly, we wanted to win, felt like we had a shot to do just that. Didn't come together.

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"That's the way it goes sometimes when you have a 36-race season. You're going to have some adversity and days that don't go your way. That's the way it was for us today, but we made the most of it, so I'm proud of my guys."

Keselowski was also working without crew chief Paul Wolfe, who was serving a one-race suspension after the No. 2 car failed post-race heights and measures last weekend in Phoenix. Sunday, it didn't take long for things to look like it was going to be an uphill battle for Keselowski and interim crew chief Brian Wilson.

Coming to the green flag on the initial start of the 400-mile event, Keselowski was hit from behind as the inside lane stacked up when second-place starter Denny Hamlin didn't get going.

"I got ran into the back of," Keselowski said. "It did a lot of damage to the car. We were in a lot of trouble, starting to free all through the field, then I got ran over again. I'm not really sure who, why, what. I haven't seen any of that."

Jimmie Johnson tagged Keselowski coming out of Turn 4 on lap 5, sending the No. 2 spinning through the infield grass. After falling a lap down, Keselowski received the free pass at the conclusion of the first stage.

The Team Penske driver spent the next 135 laps picking his way through the field. Just don't ask Keselowski how he did it.

"That's a good question," Keselowski said. "Glad I got the race on the DVR, so I can see it. The last few restarts were obviously key for us. We seemed to get settled into about 10th there, maybe seventh or eighth. Then kind of just executed the last few restarts. Good pit calls and so forth.

"Good timing with the yellow [flags]. We caught a few breaks, for sure, and made good adjustments to our car to make up for the damage. It takes a little bit of everything: Good execution, good work by the team, and a little bit of luck on the last few yellows."

larson wins mencs auto club gettyWhat a difference one position makes.

After three straight second-place finishes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, polesitter Kyle Larson finally found Victory Lane, pulling away after an overtime restart to win Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Larson took the checkered flag at the end of the second extra lap as team owner Chip Ganassi celebrated from his perch atop the pit box.

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"It's great to be Kyle Larson right now," said the 24-year-old driver.

Resilient Brad Keselowski, whose spin on Lap 3 caused the first caution of the afternoon -- and damaged his No. 2 Team Penske Ford – rolled home in second place, .779 seconds behind the driver variously known as "Young Money" and "The California Kid."

Larson, who led a race-high 110 laps, kept his cool through four cautions and subsequent restarts over the final 21 laps, giving up the lead to pit for fresh tires on Lap 193 of a planned 200, as Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray stayed on the track.

But Larson quickly surged back to the front after a Lap 196 restart, passing Hamlin for the top spot through Turn 2 a lap later and holding it through the overtime.

"I was staying as calm as I could be, but also frustrated at the same time," Larson said of the late-race stops and starts. "It seems like every time I get to the lead at the end of one of these things, the caution comes out and I've got to fight people off on restarts. Our Target Chevy was amazing all day. We were able to lead a lot of laps today. Truex was better than us that second stage by quite a bit. We were able to get the jump on him the following restart and led pretty much the rest of the distance.

"I had to fight them off there after the green flag stops (before the final caution), and that was a lot of fun. This is just amazing. We've been so good all year long, three seconds in a row. I've been watching all the TV like 'He doesn't know how to win,' but we knew how to win today, so that was good."

In posting his second career victory (the first coming at two-mile Michigan last year), Larson completed his first weekend sweep, having won Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series event.

Larson extended his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series lead to 29 points over second-place Chase Elliott, who finished 10th.

Clint Bowyer ran third, posting his best finish since June 2015 at Sonoma, where he also came home third. Truex, who opened a lead of more than eight seconds in winning the second 60-lap stage, was fourth, with Joey Logano recovering a lost lap with a late wave-around to finish fifth.

Keselowski cut a tire during a jam-up at the start of the race, the went for a ride off Jimmie Johnson's bumper on Lap 3.

All things considered – among them a suspension to crew chief Paul Wolfe for an infraction last week at Phoenix – Keselowski was happy with his second-place result.

"We were tore all to hell," Keselowski said. "Got tore up there really early in the race. Went all the way to the back, just clawed all the way up to second... The last few restarts were obviously key for us. We seemed to get settled into about 10th there, maybe seventh or eighth.

"Then kind of just executed the last few restarts. Good pit calls and so forth. Good timing with the yellows. We caught a few breaks, for sure, and made good adjustments to our car to make up for the damage. It takes a little bit of everything: good execution, good work by the team, and a little bit of luck on the last few yellows."


Sebastian Vettel insists it was a "positive surprise" to win the Australian Grand Prix and puts Ferrari's strong performance down to the team's focus over the winter.

Ferrari parted company with technical director James Allison in July last year, despite Allison already working on the concept of the 2017 car. Mattia Binotto replaced the Briton, and was faced with the task of recovering from a winless 2016. The Scuderia got the new season off to the perfect start with Vettel's victory in Melbourne, and the four-time world champion says the win is a result of not looking too far ahead during the off-season.

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"I think for all of us this is a positive surprise," Vettel said. "I think the road we followed was pretty simple. We didn't look left, we didn't look right, we didn't look forward, and we didn't look back! We focused on what we had to do at the time. Obviously there's been a lot of up and down left and right in the last 12 months but I think specially in the last couple of months things calmed down and we just tried to do our job.

"Obviously there's been a big reshuffle, but as I said people are happy, happy to work, working with each other so that's the key and in the end there's no shortcut, you need to get the job done and invest a lot of hours thinking.

"Passion is a great driving force back in the factory, also here. Up and down the pitlane the amount of hours the guys are covering is mad, so you need to love what you're doing. But I think I said it years ago - joining Ferrari, there seems to be extra passion working for the Prancing Horse.

"Just focusing on ourselves really has been the big difference and the key to deliver a great car, which we obviously have. The speeds were alright both on the straights, and in the corners we are competitive - I was able to stay with Lewis. They had a little bit the upper hand yesterday, but I knew we had much better balance yesterday than on Friday so I knew in the race anything could happen.

While Ferrari's strategy won the race as it left Vettel out after Hamilton pitted early, the German says the victory is especially significant given the recent turmoil behind the scenes at Maranello.

"We say this from the outside but if you're not part of the team it's difficult to realize but what this team has done in the last six months has been really tough, rough as well, not easy to manage the whole team. But I think the new car in general... today is fantastic, a big reward and big relief for everyone.

"It's just the tip of the iceberg though, the foundation has been laid a long time ago. I'm sure we'll have a great night, create some great memories tonight and take it from there. We enjoy what we do, the spirit is great in the team and it's up to us to keep it up."



Haas team principal Guenther Steiner was left ruing a missed opportunity at the Australian Grand Prix after Romain Grosjean retired from seventh place.

Grosjean had been one of the standout performers during Saturday's qualifying session and started from sixth on the grid, and although he lost out to Felipe Massa at the start he was still comfortably in seventh when a water leak forced him to retire in the pit lane. Kevin Magnussen also failed to see the checkered flag, meaning Haas left Melbourne without scoring despite showing good pace.

Asked if he'd rather have pace and lack reliability instead of the other way round, Steiner replied: "Absolutely.

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"We know the car is good, they are both positive, especially Romain was very positive. He lost a place to Massa at the start but he wasn't too concerned about it, he saw the speed and everybody could see we could keep the Toro Rossos easily away. So the car has got speed, but it's how many opportunities like this will you get? Because with such a tight midfield, it's a lost opportunity.

"So it's disappointing, but it could be worse, we could be slow. I think it's a lot easier to find reliability than speed. It seems that we have got the speed, we need to find it everywhere on each track to make sure we are more consistent than last year. I think we can do that this year, but again we also need to be reliable, because you can have the quickest car but if you break down you never get a point. We will try hard in Shanghai, so let's see. At the moment I can't wait to get there to forget this one."

Magnussen's retirement was due to a puncture when running last on the road after a first-lap collision with Marcus Ericsson, and while Grosjean's failure to finish is the one that frustrates Steiner, the team principal is confident the Haas VF-17 will remain competitive.

"I think the car is pretty good," he said. "We just need to get it always in the working range. I think the car is where it showed it was here. The cat is out of the bag I would say, we know where everybody is. You can mess up a weekend with set-up but in general the car is there, we have got a good upgrade plan, so therefore I feel positive.

"It's just I am annoyed with the missed opportunity, it was like it was almost too easy to grab it. To finish seventh or fifth was there, we just had to get it to the end without the problem because I don't know how many laps we did but we could pull away and we were not like on the edge."


Lewis Hamilton took responsibility for the early pit stop that cost him the lead and ultimately hampered his chances of winning the Australian Grand Prix.

Starting from pole, Hamilton was unable to pull away from Sebastian Vettel in the opening stint and stopped on lap 17 to change his ultrasoft tires for a set of softs to run to the end of the race. Hamilton then got stuck behind Max Verstappen - who had yet to pit - while Vettel ran for another five laps before making the same stop and emerging just ahead of the Red Bull and Mercedes.

Vettel immediately pulled a big gap as Hamilton was held up behind Verstappen for three further laps, but the Mercedes driver said it was his decision to stop early.

"We had a really good start, which is fantastic; it's good to have a good getaway," Hamilton said. "After that, I was struggling with the grip from the get-go. Sebastian was able to always answer in terms of lap time, and the majority of the time do faster lap times. And then towards the end I got [caught] a bit in traffic and the car started to overheat the tires, and I was struggling with grip and it was to the point that I needed to come in. Plus, the gap was closing up and I was sliding around.

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"So it was my call, because otherwise he probably would have come by anyway. So then I came in and then I got obviously stuck in traffic, which is a little bit unfortunate but that's motor racing.

"But a big congratulations to Sebastian and Ferrari. I know it's been a long time coming for them to get a result like this. It shows we are going to have a race on our hands, which we are very happy to have, which is great for the fans. Unfortunately it's harder than ever to get close to cars, which is a shame. We can't even have a close battle but who knows, maybe in the future we will."

And Hamilton believes tire usage is an area Mercedes will need to improve in order to fight back against Ferrari in future races.

"I don't think there was any conflicting information or anything like that; it was just that the team asked me to give them information where the tires were after the run, and the race we had planned to race and I was asked to race wasn't necessarily the optimum in terms of making it... We didn't have the pace to pull a gap, for example, to Sebastian, and we knew that from quite early on, yet I continued on this road which just didn't end up working out.

"But there is an area we have to work on, obviously our tire usage is something we have to ... we understand where we are losing so we just have to make changes to improve that for the future, which we will do. It is very, very close in pace, clearly, but we will continue to get faster through these next races."

gal 2Images from the race, practice and qualifying for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

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