Audi Sport

Bonanomi takes Rossiter’s Le Mans seat at ByKolles

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The ByKolles LMP1 team has confirmed that Marco Bonanomi will join its line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans after James Rossiter was forced to withdraw from the event due to clashing commitments.

Rossiter raced in the opening two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship season alongside Oliver Webb and Dominik Kraihamer, the trio finishing sixth overall at Spa last month in the ENSO CLM P1/01 car.

However, Rossiter has been forced into testing a Super GT car for Toyota over the Le Mans weekend and is unable to race, with Audi factory driver Bonanomi taking his place.

“We deeply regret that James had to call off his participation at Le Mans just to attend a test in Japan,” ByKolles director of racing operations Boris Bermes said.

“We had to find a replacement on short notice. In Marco Bonanomi, we found a very fast and experienced LMP1 driver. Marco already was racing on the highest level at Le Mans as an Audi factory driver three times.

“During our test in Spa-Francorchamps last week, we were convinced by his unsurpassed qualities and we could make further progress with our car. We will be well positioned at Le Mans in regards to technic and drivers.”

“I am very happy that I am allowed to climb into the ByKolles Racing car for the best and most important race of the year,” said Bonanomi, who last raced at Le Mans in 2015.

“In the course of my career, the participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was always a dream. Being on the podium at my debut in 2012 will stay in my memory forever.

“This race has so much history and holds a great fascination. You can feel the atmosphere in the cockpit and soak it up literally.

“I would like to thank the team for giving me this chance. I cannot wait to race a LMP1 car at the Sarthe again.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.