Hamilton chases first ever career three-peat in China

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Lewis Hamilton enters today’s Chinese Grand Prix looking to claim his third straight race win for the first time in his Formula 1 career, and after bagging pole position yesterday in the wet, he has given himself the best possible chance of doing so.

The British driver made his F1 debut back in 2007 with McLaren, becoming just the second rookie driver in the history of the team. However, he immediately shot to fame after finishing his first season in second place, and he most probably would have won the championship had it not been for a strategy error in Shanghai. He made up for it in 2008 though, winning the championship by a single point ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

Despite these successes and a number of wins since, the Briton has never won three straight races throughout his F1 career. However, he has come very close.

In 2007, Hamilton had the chance to make it three in a row at the French Grand Prix following victories in Canada and at Indianapolis in the United States Grand Prix. However, Ferrari romped to a one-two finish with a fine display.

During his championship winning year of 2008, Hamilton came very close to a hat-trick in Hungary after winning in Britain and Germany in the two races beforehand. He looked set to seal the victory, but a puncture meant that he struggled home to finish fifth. This still remains his lowest finishing position at the Hungaroring when he has seen the checkered flag.

Finally, in 2010, he lost out to Sebastian Vettel at the European Grand Prix after winning in Turkey and Canada. Hamilton brought his car home in second place, but even this came with a huge slice of luck. After overtaking the safety car, the Briton was given a drive-through penalty, but his advantage was so great that it meant he did not lose a position.

This time around, Hamilton has his best shot yet of making it three on the bounce. The Mercedes W05 is supreme in both dry and wet conditions, but the team will be keen on a hassle-free race. The greatest challenge to Hamilton might come from the other side of the garage as Nico Rosberg chases his second Chinese Grand Prix victory.

You can see if Hamilton makes it three in a row live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30am ET.

Plans for Alonso sports car debut in Rolex 24 gathering speed

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Plans for McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso to appear in next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona are gathering speed as the two-time World Champion angles for a drive at Le Mans in 2018.

Alonso announced on Thursday he had signed a new, multi-year deal to remain with McLaren in F1, but has left the door open to continue his pursuit of the Triple Crown of Motorsport and become just the second driver in history to complete it.

Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice and made his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, retiring with an engine issue, and has made no secret of his ambition to race at Le Mans one day.

With no date clashes, the possibility exists for Alonso to race at Le Mans in 2018, potentially with Toyota in the LMP1 class following McLaren’s split with Honda.

However, Alonso could make his 24-hour race debut five months earlier, with reports emerging on Thursday that he could be in line to appear in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

First reported by Sportscar365, Alonso could be set to race for McLaren executive director Zak Brown’s team, United Autosports, at Daytona in January, with no clashes existing with his F1 commitments.

Alonso remained coy when asked about the chances of him appearing at Daytona, but admitted additional preparation for a possible Le Mans appearance would be of interest.

“For the Indy 500 it was a nice experience, I felt very competitive but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, from no testing, not any similar race before it,” Alonso said, as quoted by Reuters.

“If I want to prepare Le Mans, maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better than I prepared the Indy 500.”

He added more about his other race program in Thursday’s pre-race Paddock Pass episode, speaking to NBCSN. “To be the best driver in the world you have to win in different series at different times. It’s possible I can compete in different races next year,” he said.

Brown said he would be happy to field Alonso at Daytona, and confirmed their pair had already loosely discussed it.

“If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily,” Brown said.

“We’ve started joking around about it, and we saw where jokes got us last time,” he added, referencing the eventual entry to the Indy 500.

United Autosports will field two JS P217 cars at Daytona in January, and has already confirmed ex-F1 racer Paul di Resta, McLaren junior Lando Norris, American endurance racer Will Owen and Danish youngster Philip Hanson in seats.

McLaren reserve and 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button had been linked with a drive for United Autosports at Daytona, but Brown confirmed to Sportscar365 this was no longer an option.

“Jenson won’t be driving for us. I don’t know what he’s going to be doing,” Brown said.

“I thought he was going to be in the Penske car. Not sure what happened there.”