Le Mans update: Mixed conditions hit for final hour

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A final update before the checkered flag at the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans:

  • Conditions are changing by the minute. A mix of rain, sun, and clouds have at times enveloped various parts of the Circuit de la Sarthe.
  • Nicolas Lapierre crashed the No. 7 Toyota TS030 Hybrid at Porsche Curves, walked an unspecified distance away from the car, got back in the car and took it back to the pit lane. After quick repairs, that car has returned to the race with just under 38 minutes remaining.
  • The No. 46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 03 Nissan crashed into a barrier and the No. 35 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan, LMP2 class leader with Bertrand Baguette currently driving, spun to avoid it. At the same time, the No. 49 Pecom Racing Oreca Nissan spun ahead of the No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro almost in slow motion, and also avoided contact.
  • Safety cars plan to withdraw with less than 30 minutes remaining, setting up the final shootout with weather conditions, like the race, firmly to be determined.
  • Current class leaders are Audi No. 2 (LMP1), OAK No. 35 (LMP2), Porsche No. 92 (GTE Pro) and Imsa Porsche No. 76 (GTE Am).

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”