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Honda expecting ‘another challenging weekend’ at Canadian GP

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Honda Formula 1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa is braced for “another challenging weekend” in Canada as the power-hungry Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal threatens to leave McLaren struggling for pace once again.

McLaren-Honda has failed to score any points through the opening six races of the 2017 season, largely thanks to problems with the power unit supplied by the Japanese manufacturer which lacks both performance and reliability.

McLaren saw its hopes of points in Monaco two weeks ago fade when both Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne retired in the final 20 laps, leaving it at the foot of the constructors’ championship with almost a third of the season complete.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s race in Montreal, Hasegawa was pleased to welcome back Fernando Alonso, who missed Monaco to enter the Indianapolis 500, but did not dress up Honda’s expectations for the Canadian Grand Prix.

“The Canadian Grand Prix is always a special race for us,” Hasegawa said. “It is one of the most vibrant and popular on the Formula 1 calendar, and has a wonderful atmosphere.

“The fans really embrace the grand prix each year. We also have the warm support of our colleagues from Honda Canada.

“After Jenson’s one-off appearance in Monaco, we will have Fernando back behind the wheel fresh from his great Indy 500 challenge. His bid to win in his rookie year came to a disappointing end, but once again Fernando showed what an incredible talent he is.

“He was a contender for victory throughout the legendary race and drove like a seasoned oval racer. I am looking forward to seeing him after his great adventure.

“Despite the beautiful nature of the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, this power-hungry, demanding track will not play to our strengths.

“With its power-oriented nature, stop and start corners, abrasive surface and long straights, it will no doubt be another challenging race weekend for us.

“However, we will keep pushing forward, no matter how tough the challenge ahead.”

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”