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Halo, Ferrari

Halo, Ferrari

Formula 1's Strategy Group has voted against the introduction of the halo cockpit protection device for the 2017 season.

Following a meeting of the Group in Geneva on Thursday it was determined the device lacked the required maturity to be fully implemented on F1 cars for 2017.

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"It won't be in F1 next season," F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Autosport. "We're going to have a good look at it.

"We felt despite the numerous tests conducted by the FIA, it hadn't been looked at deeply enough, and that it is going to require more time. We've also decided we will no longer be calling it the halo. We're simply going with head protection."

Ecclestone has also confirmed work will continue on Red Bull's aeroscreen, and insists F1 should not stand still when it comes to safety.

Ferrari first trialled the halo in pre-season testing at Barcelona, with its arrival causing an immediate divide in opinion among the drivers.

Although Ferrari continued to work with the FIA in refining the system – with the second-generation halo reverting to a titanium construction – opinion has remained split.

The FIA attempted to win over the drivers with a presentation last Friday ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, proclaiming there would be a 17 percent improvement in safety.

Even the likes of Lewis Hamilton, who previously derided the halo as "the worst-looking modification in F1 history", softened his stance after listening to the FIA's arguments.

The FIA did have the option of playing a trump card and implementing the halo on safety grounds, but Autosport understands FIA president Jean Todt opted not to go against the majority decision on this occasion.

Originally on Autosport.com

Daniil Kvyat, F1 2016

Daniil Kvyat has slated rumors he will be axed by Toro Rosso at the end of the current Formula 1 season.

It was suggested in Kvyat's Russian homeland this week he was on his way out as his performances have been below par since returning to Toro Rosso in May after being demoted by Red Bull to make way for Max Verstappen.

In seven grands prix since rejoining Toro Rosso, Kvyat has scored just two points compared to the 26 of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.

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In response to the speculation in Russia Kvyat said: "Personally I don't want to waste my f***ing time commenting on rumors.

"We've these two back-to-back races, and the last one in Hungary wasn't great, so I'll try to work with the team on having a better weekend here in Germany. That's all I'm really focused on at the moment, and then we'll see, so I wouldn't really take any of these rumors seriously.

"We just have to be constructive and honest with our engineers, and try to build up a good baseline altogether, and just stay focused. I'm really sure if I can put in a couple of good performances then everything will be fine again."

Kvyat is now looking forward to the forthcoming summer break following this weekend's race at Hockenheim which he feels will give him he opportunity to reflect on what has been a difficult first half of the year.

"After everything that has been going on it's a good time for me to disconnect and think about all the things that have happened in the past," added Kvyat. "Before then we want to have a good conclusion, to get a good race under our belt before the summer break starts, and hopefully we'll be able to achieve that."

Kvyat claimed after the race in Hungary that he lacks trust in the STR11, saying he does not know "what it's doing, how the car is going to react and things."

He added on Thursday: "There's nothing you can do about it. It [the trust] just comes, or it doesn't come.

"We've had some issues on my side, some on the team's side, and among all those issues it's been hard to find a baseline.

"We still don't know where the sweet spot is, because we know if we do, then we'll be strong."

Originally on Autosport.com

Hinchcliffe and AleshinSam Schmidt expects to keep Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' full-time IndyCar lineup of James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin in place next season.

The Canadian star, who earned pole position at this year's Indy 500 and is coming off a podium performance at his home race in Toronto, has another year left on his contract with SPM. The Russian sophomore, who is riding a pair of top-six results into this weekend's race at Mid-Ohio, has expressed his intent to return for his third season with the team, and provided it happens, it would mark the first time SPM has achieved year-to-year driver continuity since 2013 when it expanded to two cars.

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"It's common knowledge James has another year left with his contract with us," Schmidt told RACER. "On Mikhail, he says he's coming back next year, and he will only get better. We expected to be higher up in the points than we are with James, and had a couple of hiccups in Detroit and Road America, but we want to keep building momentum in each race we have left going into next year.

"It took Mikhail a little bit of time to get re-acclimated to the series and the tracks, but he's done a good job and he's definitely shown the speed. We're optimistic both will be back with full force next year with as good or better results."

Schmidt also spoke to the growing relationship with Arrow Electronics, which joined the team as an associate sponsor in 2014 and expanded to assume primary sponsorship of Hinchcliffe's No. 5 Honda in 2015.

Hinch pole LATAccording to the driver-turned-owner, Arrow has achieved the rather impressive feat of strengthening SPM's IndyCar program while using its affiliation with the team and series to make significant gains in the high-tech business sector.

"We're proud of the fact that three years ago when we started our journey with Arrow, they were 30 percent behind the No. 1 company in their industry (Avnet)," Schmidt said. "This year, they surpassed that company in market capitalization and sales. They've sailed right on by and are No. 1. They came to us to effect change, so it's a great example of a team and sponsor coming together to make a difference. It's a whole corporate philosophy that has fostered that growth. It's the SAM Corvette project, the race team, the corporate hospitality, the summer intern program for engineers...

"The goals we set out with our team in advance of each year have already been exceeded. Whether it's exposure, or creating business opportunities, or reducing costs, that's what we focus on outside of how we do at the track, and each of the three areas are up this year. It makes the process of travelling 200 days a year a lot easier when everything is working as well as it is with Arrow."

On the Indy Lights front, Schmidt went into the season with three full-time drivers in Santiago Urrutia, Andre Negrao, and RC Enerson in place and a fourth part-time car for Scott Anderson. Enerson left unexpectedly after the Freedom 100 race and his father is currently being sued by Schmidt; Anderson completed his program after the Indy road course event, and Schmidt says filling those empty seats will come before any plans to expand before four cars.

"We went into the season knowing we only had the fourth car booked for the first half of the season and had to fill that for the second half," he added. "I think we'll have someone in it for sure at Laguna Seca. Santi's been doing a good job, Andre's been doing a good job, and I don't really see expansion there because we still need to fill the cars we have before we add more."

pumpellyAcura and RealTime Racing have drafted in sports car veteran Spencer Pumpelly to drive the No. 43 TLX at the next two Pirelli World Challenge GT rounds as its regular driver, RTR owner Peter Cunningham, concentrates on developing the brand's 2017 NSX GT3.

"To be a part of this progression of the NSX GT3 is a tremendous opportunity. Having been the test driver in North America for the first generation NSX race car, I feel a deep connection to this project," Cunningham said. "With the new NSX coming on line, it is a very important program for Acura and I'm honored to be able to contribute. As I focus my energies on the NSX, we knew that we needed to find a top-notch driver for the TLX to bring Acura the best possible result."

RTR found great success with the previous version of the NSX, with Cunningham earning 14 wins during its time in World Challenge. The addition of Pumpelly should make for a quick and easy fit within the team as he and Ryan Eversley, who pilots the No. 42 TLX, are close friends away from the track and bring an instant bond to the program, evidenced by his reveal on social media.

"I am thrilled to be joining RealTime Racing this weekend in Ohio and excited to become part of the Acura family," said Pumpelly, who will also race in Cunningham's place on Aug. 12-14 at the Utah Motorsports Campus (formerly known as Miller Motorsports Park). "The team and brand have achieved tremendous success in the series and it's an honor to be able to work with all the people involved. The Acura TLX is an amazing car which should do well around the tight turns of Mid-Ohio. The team has been a huge help in getting me comfortable in the car and I'm eager to get on track with it."

In addition to the driver change in the No. 43, Acura revealed Wednesday that the public debut of the NSX GT3 will take place today and Friday during practice for the PWC event at Mid-Ohio. Dutchman Peter Kox will drive the car both days before it is parked and put on display in the paddock.

Formula E wings

Formula E has revealed the first official images of the new front wing it will introduce for the 2016/17 season.

The "futuristic" front end has been tested on track in recent weeks by a number of teams, with Mahindra sharing photos of the design on Twitter.

As revealed by Autosport in March, the electric single-seater series will feature a new nose shape and front wing design for its third campaign.

The new kit is being introduced for aesthetic reasons, not aerodynamic gain.

FE CEO Alejandro Agag said: "Formula E aims to be different, and this new front wing creates a look that's different to every other car out there.

"I think this is a great addition to our car and further emphasizes the fact that this is a modern, forward-thinking championship that is taking a completely different approach to all other racing series."

FE champion Sebastien Buemi said he liked the new wing, the top tier of which can be seen from inside the cockpit.

"It looks a little bit more futuristic, and from inside the car you can see the top part of the wing, so visually for the driver there is also a small change," he said. "We want Formula E to look different and be different, and the new wing is a good way of showing that."

Other changes for the 2016/17 campaign include upgraded, lighter Michelin tyres and a new steering wheel, although a mooted upgrade to a button-based brake-bias adjustment system has not come to fruition.

The appearance of the cars will take a more dramatic shift when a new chassis comes in for season five.

FE and the FIA have yet to announce who has won the tender for the single-chassis supply.

Formula E wings

Originally on Autosport.com

Jensen ButtonHonda is working on proving the durability of its next Formula 1 engine upgrade and is encouraged by the numbers on the dynos back at its base in Sakura.

The Japanese manufacturer spent two development tokens on an internal combustion upgrade for McLaren ahead of the British Grand Prix and has 11 remaining.

Though Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa told Autosport earlier this month the firm is planning to wait four or five races before introducing its next update, he said that timescale was flexible depending on progress, with signs encouraging at present.

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"We always keep developing so as soon as we can prepare something, there is no reason to wait to introduce it," he told Autosport.

When asked about the numbers on the dyno at the factory for the next upgrade, Hasegawa said: "We saw some elements are good. We just have to prove that it is OK as a package and also we need to complete durability confirmation. There is no end for the development.

"We have some room to improve, especially from an ICE point of view. I think we will spend all tokens for this year."

Though this weekend's German Grand Prix venue Hockenheim requires strong top speed, Hasegawa is optimistic about McLaren's chances of scoring again.

"At Silverstone we were not very weak but in the midfield, so I expect to challenge for points in Hockenheim as well," he said. "In Spa or Monza, it will be very tough, but I expect to get some points at Hockenheim."

McLAREN NOW FOURTH FASTEST?

Fernando Alonso finished seventh for McLaren-Honda in Hungary last weekend, a result he declared "best of the rest" behind the "out of reach" Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.

Williams currently occupies that fourth spot in the constructors' standings, with McLaren 56 points further back in seventh.

But Williams technical chief Pat Symonds acknowledged that McLaren was probably now among its rivals at every race.

"The fact is I still believe that we are the fourth-quickest car but it's getting really tight now," he said. "Even McLaren are fighting to make that claim. But between ourselves, Force India and arguably McLaren, I think we are scrapping for fourth.

"Then Toro Rosso will have their good days like they did in Hungary and they will say that they're fourth."

BEST OF THE REST IN 2016

Alonso called the race behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari a 'mini-championship.' Here's who has been coming out on top in it at each race so far this year.

RACE       TEAM         DRIVER           RESULT  GAP TO 1ST
Australia  Williams     Felipe Massa     5th     +59s
Bahrain    Haas         Romain Grosjean  5th     +1m18s
China      Williams     Felipe Massa     6th     +1m16s
Russia     Williams     Valtteri Bottas  4th     +50s
Spain      Williams     Valtteri Bottas  5th     +45s
Monaco     Force India  Sergio Perez     3rd     +14s
Canada     Williams     Valtteri Bottas  3rd     +46s
Europe     Force India  Sergio Perez     3rd     +25s
Austria    McLaren      Jenson Button    6th     +38s
Britain    Force India  Sergio Perez     6th     +1m17s
Hungary    McLaren      Fernando Alonso  7th     +1 lap

 

CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

PosConstructorPoints
1 Mercedes 378
2 Ferrari 224
3 Red Bull/Renault 223
4 Williams/Mercedes 94
5 Force India/Mercedes 74
6 Toro Rosso/Ferrari 45
7 McLaren/Honda 38
8 Haas/Ferrari 28
9 Renault 6
10 Manor/Mercedes 1
11 Sauber/Ferrari 0

 

Originally on Autosport.com

target ledeThrough the years there have been some really solid relationships between IndyCar owners, drivers and sponsors. Roger Penske had a 21-year-run with Marlboro and Phillip Morris that produced 71 wins, four championships and seven Indianapolis 500 victories. Kmart sponsored Newman/Haas, the Andretti family, Nigel Mansell and Cristiano da Matta through 13 years, 46 wins and three titles, sharing space with Texaco/Havoline for 10 of those seasons. Copenhagen funded A.J. Foyt for 12 years and Miller Brewing backed Bobby Rahal's team for 10 years. ABC Supply has been with Foyt since 2005, which is a lifetime nowadays.

But the longest and one of the most successful sponsorships in IndyCar history also launched a neophyte owner into the rarified air that only The Captain breathed.

The 27-year-run of Target with Chip Ganassi garnered 101 victories, 11 championships and four trips to Victory Lane at Indianapolis and was a partnership that likely will never be seen again.

dixon"They were the greatest sponsor ever," Ganassi said on Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after it was revealed that Target was ending its IndyCar association after five more races. "And they were with us for all these years because it made sense for their business and because it was good for their company. They changed my life."

It all started in 1990, when Ganassi started his team after buying Patrick Racing. "A girl that Danny Sullivan knew worked for Target and they expressed some interest in IndyCar racing," he recalled. "That's how it all started and nobody could have imagined we'd be together for almost three decades."

What people might not remember is that it was not an overnight success story in terms of the on-track product. The Target/Ganassi colors didn't fly in the winner's circle until the fifth year, when Michael Andretti won twice.

But those were the beginnings of CART's golden years in terms of attendance, awareness, television ratings, manufacturers and prestige, and Target, which made the most of using its vendors, was delighted with the exposure.

"It was a way for Target to enhance its marketing through vendor participation," Ganassi said. "It enhanced good relationships with good partners and the vendors found a lot of value."

Beginning in 1996, Ganassi Racing found its groove and Target found its red Reynard/Hondas with lightning bolts getting maximum exposure as Jimmy Vasser took the CART championship and newcomer Alex Zanardi took people's breath away with his aggressive driving.

It only got better as Zanardi claimed back-to-back CART crowns in 1997 and 1998 (on the strength of 12 wins) only to head to Formula One and be replaced by a rookie that was even more breathtaking: Juan Montoya, who rang up seven wins and Ganassi's fourth consecutive championship.

Target was good for Ganassi, but even better for CART because it produced clever national TV commercials using Vasser, Zanardi and Montoya in addition to running full-page ads in USA Today and other publications.

It was the first time since the glory days of Foyt, Andretti, Parnelli Jones and the Unsers that open-wheel racers had a national presence – and that was without the Indy 500 because of the split in 1996.

But that all changed in 2000 when Chip crossed the picket line during May and Montoya mopped up the Indy Racing League regulars with a masterful triumph at IMS. Target blanketed newspapers and magazines with its celebration ads.

2006 Chicago LAT copyScott Dixon has been the face of the No. 9 Target car since 2002, scoring 38 wins, four IndyCar titles and one Indy 500, while Dario Franchitti delivered 14 wins, three championships and a pair of Indy 500s in the No. 10 Target car.

Only Penske's 32 years with Miller Brewing (28 in NASCAR and four in IndyCar) can top the era that will end Sept. 18th in Sonoma.

"It was a helluva run for Chip," said Don "The Snake" Prudomme, drag racing icon and one of Ganassi's best friends. "I had Skoal for 20 years and that was an eternity, but 27 years is just hard to fathom."

Of course, all the experts are claiming poor TV ratings, the disastrous attempt to expand in Canada and the security breach of credit cards as the reasons Target is leaving, but let's get serious here, folks. Maybe after 27 years it was simply time.

Ganassi is humbled by the amazing partnership, but sounds prepared for what's next.

"It's been so much bigger than just a sponsor and I've developed so many great relationships through the years," he said. "I've still got Target in NASCAR (for Kyle Larson) and I still plan on running four cars in IndyCar. We'll be fine."

And, as long as they've got Dixon, Ganassi Racing will still have a target on its back – just not on the sidepods.

Click on the thumbnails below for larger images.

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13603787 10154259681917410 5634668544688908271 oAcura and RealTime Racing will debut the Acura NSX GT3 on Thursday and Friday during official Pirelli World Challenge testing and practice sessions at Mid-Ohio. The twin-turbo V6-powered supercar has been given permission by PWC to share the track prior to qualifying and gather track data with the rest of the cars in its GT category.

Dutch GT veteran Peter Kox was also announced as the official development driver for the Acura NSX GT3, and after his testing duties are completed on Friday, the NSX development chassis will be displayed in the Mid-Ohio paddock during this weekend's combined PWC and IndyCar event.

“Based on a very successful test program, we’re taking the next logical step in seeing how we stack-up against the competition,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. “Mid-Ohio seemed like the perfect opportunity, given the demands it places on a racecar and its proximity to NSX R&D and manufacturing.”

St. Cyr confirmed the car will be shipped to France in September for official FIA homologation testing at the LaDoux circuit, and reaffirmed the plans by Acura and HPD to campaign the car in at least one North American sportscar series in 2017.

"Right now we're still in the stages of determining the who's and the what's of where we're going to run in 2017," St. Cyr told RACER. "All I can confirm right now is that we absolutely are running it in 2017. As far as which series, which teams, and that kind of stuff, we have some finalists but we haven't had final approval, so we're not ready to announce that at this time, but that will be coming fairly shortly."

St. Cyr also said he does not expect to see the NSX GT3 race before the end of the year due to its lack of FIA homologation.

It's believed RealTime Racing will field a PWC GT program for Acura/HPD in 2017, and it's also understood that a list of potential candidates to run the NSX GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class has been narrowed down to two teams.

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