NASCAR chairman Brian France will not stand for any criticism of its racing product with the Sprint Cup Series’ new Generation 6 car.
“I have been crystal clear in the meetings with all of the drivers and all of the owners about the fact that we are going to give them more opportunities to criticize more things than any other professional sport in America,” France told the AP in a phone interview. “Having said that, there is one line that we are not going to tolerate and that’s going to be criticizing the quality of the racing product in any way, form or fashion.”
France admitted there is a very small line between constructive criticism and questioning the integrity of the sport or integrity of the officials.
It’s been a mixed start for the G6, which opened to less than satisfactory reviews at Daytona and Phoenix, but has seen improved racing and good lead battles at Las Vegas, Bristol and California.
Denny Hamlin, now sidelined for six weeks with a broken vertebrae, spoke out against the car’s racing credentials after Phoenix and earned a $25,000 fine.
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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.