Shortly before the 24 Hours of Le Mans moved into its seventh hour, the race-leading No. 1 Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro of Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler suffered problems and was forced into the garage, where its crew has feverishly begun work in an attempt to alleviate the issue.
Audi had been tight-lipped about the problem, with the only piece of information relayed by American race broadcaster SPEED Channel being that the No. 1 has an issue with its “electric generator.” The team later tweeted that the alternator was being changed on the No. 1 machine.
As a result, the No. 2 Audi R18 of Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish has taken the overall lead with the twin Toyota Racing TS 030 Hybrids moving to second (No. 8 – Stephane Sarrazin, Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson) and third (No. 7 – Kazuki Nakajima, Nicolas Lapierre and Alex Wurz) ahead of the No. 3 Audi R18 (Marc Gene, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis), which has fallen back to fourth after pitting for a tire puncture.
The No. 1 team has fallen back currently to 15th overall, as Kristensen has taken over the No. 2 Audi and Sarrazin is now in the No. 8 Toyota.
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.