Welcome to FOX SPORTS’ live coverage of the Practice 1 and 2 from the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
This year is set to be the last Spanish Grand Prix with Barcelona’s deal expiring at the end of this season and an agreement unlikely to be met with Liberty Media.
Barcelona will see many teams bringing new upgrades to the table this season, with the likes of Ferrari and Renault looking to halt their underwhelming starts to the year.
That means Daniel Ricciardo will be fitted with a new, upgraded engine for the race with Renault looking to hit reset on their season and move back to the front of the midfield pack, where they feel they belong.
“It is mainly for reliability,” Ricciardo said. “I don’t know how much detail they have gone into what parts have changed.
“But some materials, I know what they are but I don’t know how much I can say, but some have changed to help reliability.
“For now that is the target but if we see that it is more reliable then we can start again pushing the power curve and all those other things that others do in qualifying.”
Ricciardo however, will have to serve a three-place grid penalty when starting the race this weekend after the incident with Daniil Kvyat where he reversed into his former teammate, ruling them both out of the race in Baku last time out.
Elsewhere, Lewis Hamilton has moved to calm any suggestions that his title battle with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas will turn as sour as his 2016 fight with Nico Rosberg.
The two are separated by just one point having each won two races and finished runner-up in two races.
Track schedule (AEST):
Practice 1: 19.00-20.30
Practice 2: 23.00-00.30
Follow all the action here or live and exclusive on FOX SPORTS 506.
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However, focus quickly shifted to the Rins-Marquez fight, which was exhilarating — so much so, that Rins tried to steal the win on what he thought was the final lap.
Rins led across the start-finish line heading into the final lap by a scant 0.001s, but lost the lead immediately as Marquez held firm following the initial overtake attempt.
On the penultimate lap — or what Rins thought was the final lap — Marquez had been met with an impossible round-the-outside challenge at the sweeping Woodcote right-hander.
Rins indeed crossed the line ahead but was off the circuit, and Marquez moved in front, albeit sliding on his rear tyre into the high-speed Copse turn where Quartararo and Dovizioso came to grief.
On the final lap, Rins took a wider line and outfoxed Marquez, who ran tighter. Rins snuck down the inside, Marquez stayed on his line, and 0.013s was all there was.
With the chequered flag waving, Rins took a glance to his left and saw the margin to Marquez, and celebrated a well-earned victory.
However, it could have been much different.
“My tactic during the middle of the race, I was able to recover a lot of tenths on the last corner,” Rins said after the race.
“On the [previous] two corners he was much faster, he go like 0.5[s quicker] every lap on T16, T17, [but] I recover a lot of time on the last corner.
“At the end last lap I was recovering a lot of time to him, and I did a very big mistake, two laps to the end I was thinking [it] was the last lap, I tried to overtake him on the outside and I saw him [still] going full gas.”
Back then, McLaughlin was just three years old and could only harbour dreams of racing success. Now, he’s living those dreams to the fullest, and a second drivers’ title is all but a certainty with the New Zealander building a massive 573-point lead.
Lowndes achieved the mark as a 22-year-old rookie with the Holden Racing Team in 1996, and went on to take 107 career victories alongside three drivers’ titles and seven Bathurst wins.
Sunday’s Race 22 win at The Bend Motorsport Park marked McLaughlin’s 41st career victory, opening a door into where the 26-year-old sits in ATCC/Supercars history.
McLaughlin is now sixth all time on the race winners’ list. Only Jamie Whincup (114), Lowndes, Mark Skaife (90), Garth Tander (54) and Peter Brock (48) have won more races.
Think of names like Glenn Seton, Mark Winterbottom, Allan Moffat and John Bowe. McLaughlin is ahead of all of them, and he’s continuing to rise up the list.
Master qualifier McLaughlin is already second all-time on the pole winners’ list with 60, behind just Whincup (80). Winterbottom (36) and Shane van Gisbergen (18) are the closest active drivers in the ballpark.
This is all before McLaughlin’s 100th round start, which fittingly comes at his home event at the Auckland SuperSprint across September 13-15.
Joining Lowndes is “awesome”, but usurping him on home soil would be even sweeter in such a competitive era.
“You never think that you can probably, in this day and age, win 16,” McLaughlin said.
“I’m so proud of the team to give me a car I can be able to do it.
“I’ve been saying the whole time, it was a privilege to drive this.
“Trying to stay humble, and drive the thing as fast as I can and thankfully it provides some results from time to time.
“Very lucky and hopefully [with] my 100th round in New Zealand coming up, maybe we get a win there and get maybe pass him [Lowndes]. We’ll see.”
The fast and ferocious Pukekohe Park Raceway holds special memories for McLaughlin, who as a teenager in 2013, became the youngest ever driver to win an ATCC/Supercars race.
It was a special moment for the then Garry Rogers Motorsport young gun, who shared the podium with Lowndes on that very special day.
Career win No. 1 was tough as the then 19-year-old held off a fast-finishing pack which included Jason Bright, Lowndes, van Gisbergen, current DJRTP teammate Fabian Coulthard and Will Davison.