Le Mans: F1, American drivers of note to watch

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A mix of ex-Formula One stars, names known to an American audience, and rising sports car talents are part of the 168 drivers that will compete in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

  • The ex-F1 contingent: Those counting at least one Grand Prix start on their resume and competing at Le Mans include: Allan McNish, Marc Gene, Lucas di Grassi (Audi), Alexander Wurz, Kaz Nakajima, Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin (Toyota), Nick Heidfeld (Rebellion Lola Toyota), Shinji Nakano (G-Drive/Delta-ADR Oreca Nissan), Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella, Kamui Kobayashi, Olivier Beretta (AF Corse Ferrari), Jan Magnussen (Corvette), Pedro Lamy (pictured right, with Bill Auberlen) and Bruno Senna (Aston Martin).
  • Those with an IndyCar connection: Ryan Briscoe (Level 5 HPD) and Mike Conway (G-Drive/Delta-ADR) are the only current IndyCar drivers making a start at Le Mans, owing to their lack of a full-time ride. Some other names with past IndyCar experience or connection include Dario Franchitti’s brother Marino (Briscoe’s Level 5 teammate), and recent IndyCar starters Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman (OAK Morgan Nissan) and Ho-Pin Tung (KCMG Morgan Nissan).
  • The American crowd: The “Yanks” in this year’s field race in all classes except LMP1. They include: Kevin Weeda (Lotus), Scott Tucker (Level 5), Matt Downs, Rodin Younessi (Boutsen Ginion Oreca Nissan), Alexander Rossi, Eric Lux (Caterham Greaves Zytek Nissan), and Mark Patterson (Murphy Oreca Nissan) in LMP2, with Jordan Taylor, Tommy Milner (Corvette), Jonathan Bomarito, Tommy Kendall (SRT Viper), Paul Dalla Lana, Bill Auberlen (Aston Martin), Ricky Taylor, Cooper MacNeil (Larbre Corvette), Howard Blank (AF Corse), Tracy Krohn (Krohn Ferrari), and Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, and Patrick Long (Dempsey Del Piero) split between the GTE Pro and Am classes.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”