First 12 team invitations extended for 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours

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Before February’s reveal of the full 56 cars that will compete in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 teams have already earned entries into next year’s race via automatic invitations from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO).

Those 12 are:

  • OAK Racing (2 LMP2 entries; 1st LMP2 in 24H of LM, 1st LMP2 in Asian Le Mans Series)
  • Audi Sport Team Joest (1 LMP1 entry; 1st LMP1 in 24H of LM)
  • Porsche AG Team Manthey (1 GTE Pro entry; 1st GTE Pro in 24H of LM)
  • Imsa Performance Matmut (1 GTE Am entry; 1st GTE Am in 24H of LM)
  • Signatech Alpine (1 LMP2 entry; 1st LMP2 in European LMS)
  • RAM Racing (1 GTE entry either Pro or Am; 1st GTE in European LMS)
  • Proton Competition (1 GTE entry either Pro or Am; 2nd GTE in European LMS)
  • Team Endurance Challenge (1 LMP2 entry; 1st LMPC in European LMS)
  • Muscle Milk Pickett Racing (1 LMP2 entry; American Le Mans Series at-large)
  • Risi Competizione (1 GTE Pro entry; ALMS at-large)
  • AF Corse (1 GTE Am entry; 1st GTC in Asian Le Mans Series)
  • Craft Racing (1 GTE Am entry; 2nd GTC in Asian Le Mans Series)

Teams need to compete in either of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Asian or European Le Mans Series for their entry to be recognized. All full-season FIA World Endurance Championship entrants gain a spot on the 24 Hours of Le Mans grid.

F1 2017 driver review: Sergio Perez

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Sergio Perez

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 11
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P4 (Spain)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 100
Championship Position: 7th

While failing to hit the podium as he did in both 2015 and 2016, Sergio Perez once again finished the year as Formula 1’s leading midfield team driver, but faced a greater fight from within Force India in the shape of Esteban Ocon.

Perez has long been knocking on the door of F1’s top teams should an opportunity come up, and 2017 saw him continue his solid if unspectacular form. The dominance of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari meant any finish higher than seventh was impressive, something he managed to do on five occasions.

But there were some missed opportunities along the way, most significantly in Baku. Force India had been quick all weekend, with Perez charging to sixth on the grid, and when drama struck at the front, he and teammate Ocon were eyeing a podium finish as a minimum.

Contact between the two forced Perez to retire and prompted Ocon to pit for repairs, leaving the team without the top-three finish it targeted heading into the season. With Lance Stroll taking P3 for Williams and Daniel Ricciardo winning the race, a maiden victory for Force India was not out of the realm of imagination.

Perez and Ocon came to blows on a number of occasions, with the final straw coming in Spa when they twice touched on-track, prompting Force India to introduce team orders. Perez finished the year 13 points clear of Ocon in the final standings, meeting his own pre-season target of 100 points, yet the Frenchman had arguably made the bigger impression at Force India through his first full season in F1.

Force India remains the top underdog in F1 with Perez spearheading its charge, but it is difficult to see either taking the final step to becoming true contenders at the front of the field anytime soon, as solid as their displays have been.

Season High: P4 in Spain after retirements for the ‘big three’.

Season Low: Losing a sure-fire podium, if not a win, in Baku after contact with Ocon.