Sirotkin overtakes Kubica as favourite for Williams seat

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Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin has emerged as the outright favourite to claim the last vacant seat on the F1 grid for the 2018 season. 

A report from the BBC suggests that Robert Kubica was the team's preferred option until the post-season Abu Dhabi driver test, during which the drivers were pitted against one another.

Sirotkin's outright pace gave him the edge over the more experienced Kubica, effectively ending the veteran's hopes of an unlikely return to Formula 1 after a rally crash cut short his promising career in early 2011.

An announcement is expected in the next few weeks, with Sirotkin replacing Daniil Kvyat as the F1 grid's only Russian driver.

It's reported that Sirotkin brings with him financial backing of up to $15 million, and the 22-year-old will line-up alongside Canadian Lance Stroll.

In only his 2nd season, the Stroll-Sirotkin pairing is among the least experienced on the grid. Only the Toro Rosso pairing of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley are less experienced with just nine grands prix starts between them.

French GP in, Malaysia out with 2018 calendar announced

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Circle your calendars, book your flights and accommodation because the FIA have pulled the sheet back on their shiny new calendar for 2018.

Despite losing the Malaysian GP, we're welcoming back the German GP and celebrating the triumphant return of the French GP at Paul Ricard which sits right in the middle of the "European Season". Other moves include Russia which back-slides into Malaysia's slot, and Azerbijian jumps up into the opening phase of the season. 

  1. Australian Grand Prix, 23 – 25
  2. Bahrain Grand Prix, April 6 – 8
  3. Chinese Grand Prix, April 13 – 15
  4. Azerbaijan Grand Prix, April 27 – 29
  5. Spanish Grand Prix, May 11 – 13
  6. Monaco Grand Prix, May 24 – 27
  7. Canadian Grand Prix, June 8 – 10
  8. French Grand Prix, June 22 – 24
  9. Austrian Grand Prix, June 29 – July 1
  10. British Grand Prix, July 6 – 8
  11. German Grand Prix, July 20 – 22
  12. Hungarian Grand Prix, July 27 – 29
  13. Belgian Grand Prix, August 24 – 26
  14. Italian Grand Prix, August 31 – September 2
  15. Singapore Grand Prix, September 14 – 16
  16. Russian Grand Prix, September 28 – 30
  17. Japanese Grand Prix, October 5 – 7
  18. United States Grand Prix, October 19 – 21
  19. Mexican Grand Prix, October 26 – 28
  20. Brazilian Grand Prix, November 9 – 11
  21. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, November 23 – 25

So prepare yourself, eat your vegetables and do your meditative exercises because it's going to be another crammed year, especially April, June, July, September and October which all feature three races. 

Abu Dhabi GP: Winners and Losers

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Winners

Valtteri Bottas claimed his third career victory after converting his pole position into a victory, something he failed to do last race. It wasn't enough for the Finn to claim 2nd place in the championship, and for most his performance will be "too little, too late" but it shows that he still has what it takes to win races, and can keep pace with Hamilton when needed. Whether Hamilton has lost "the need" or not remains to be seen...

Nico Hulkenberg managed to drag his shambles of a Renault around the track to clinch P6 and enough points to jump Toro Rosso for 6th place in the constructors' championship, securing themselves an additional $12 million or so in cold, hard cash. Despite an off-track excursion on the opening lap, and the resulting penalty (and botched pit-stop) the Hulk again showed his class and demonstrated why his pairing with Sainz spells maximum attack in the midfield in 2018.

Pascal Wehrlein might have completed his last race in F1 for quite some time, but he seemed keen to remind everyone just what he can do. It might have been ailing Toro Rosso's and out of position Haas' that he was overtaking, but in a season where they have made the back row of the grid their own, to be within a sniff of the mid-field is an outstanding effort.

Losers

Daniel Ricciardo retired for the third time in the last four races, ending his season on a similar low to how it began. Although he enjoyed a blessed run of podiums in the first half of the season, it's largely been downhill for Ricciardo since the summer break and it's almost no wonder he's looking at the comparable reliability of Mercedes and Ferrari and dreaming of switching overalls after next season.

Renault's wheel nuts had an identity crisis and forgot their primary purpose when Carlos Sainz pulled into his garage to take service. Of all the pit-lane exits, you don't want to crash in the tunnel at Abu Dhabi if you value your life, as there aren't too many escape hatches handy if someone follows you in there. 

F1's new logo received what could charitably be called mixed reviews. Liberty's people insist that the old logo "doesn't come through candidly for digital" (ummm, what?) and that people weren't registering that the negative space was actually the "1". This is literally the shape of things to come, folks.

Have your say

Tell us your Abu Dhabi GP Driver of the Day

Brazil GP: Winners and Losers

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Winners

  • Lewis Hamilton pulled the same trick as Vettel did with a come-from-behind drive to finish just shy of the podium. He might have been in hot water over his comments regarding security around the track and questionable tax practices, but with the championship in his pocket he was able to provide some action clawing back through the field. As he starts to tick off more and more achievements he would have loved to leave Brazil with a win (or at least a podium).
  • Felipe Massa put in a fitting performance in his final home grand prix, taking a few places at the start and fighting to get ahead of former teammate Fernando Alonso. As he looks forward to a well-earned rest and some delicious Brazilian barbecue before a probable Formula E career next season, Massa gave his adoring fans the result his talent deserved.
  • Sebastian Vettel sealed the victory with his first-corner lunge up the inside of Valtteri Bottas. Although he couldn't pull out a clear gap, the race was his to control as he all but claims 2nd in the championship. 

Losers

  • Lance Stroll returns to the losers list, finishing last and two-laps down on the leaders and in stark contrast to the heroics of his teammate. As the driver being retained by Williams next season, it's clear he still has some consistency issues to sort out. 
  • Renault and Toro Rosso flung mud at one another. Rumors that Renault might refuse to give engines to Toro Rosso for the final race were the apex of the tensions between the two parties, the ultimate expression of tensions between the two as business partners and rival constructors.
  • Brazil security simply didn't do their job with multiple reports of armed robberies through the weekend (including after they announced stronger security). Need to do much, much better.

Have your say

Tell us your Brazil GP driver of the day

Get ready for a white-knuckle ride with Season 2 of Race/Off

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Two mates, one tin of no-name brand Pringles, five of the world's toughest race-tracks, and more than a few cheeky beers. What could go wrong?

Like podcasting, everyone thinks racing games are easy. But our performances in Race/Off proves that topping the time-sheets in an F1 game is 60% perspiration, 50% inspiration, and the rest? Well that's just luck.

 So, without further para-phrasing classic Australian comedies we present: Race/Off Season 2. 

 

Click play to watch the full season from start to finish 👇

 

We want to say a massive thanks to the members of the Superlicense Club for their on-going support. They keep the podcast, website and video series like this going.

As well as getting first-look access to episodes of Race/Off throughout the year, they enjoy sporadic episodes of Drift, our members only exclusive podcast.