Photo: Porsche

FIA WEC: Porsche claims 1-2 at Nurburgring

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Porsche Team dominated proceedings in Sunday’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring, the first post-24 Hours of Le Mans race of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid that won at Le Mans carried through to a second straight win with the trio of Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard. It’s also Bernhard and Hartley’s third straight victory at the Nürburgring, having done so with Mark Webber each of the last two years.

This car moved ahead of the sister No. 1 car on the final pit stop sequence, done just within the final 15 minutes of the race. The No. 1 car of Neel Jani, Nick Tandy and Andre Lotterer led most of the race but pitted for its final stop with 15 minutes remaining on Lap 196, with the No. 2 car pitting a lap later after inheriting the lead, completing a shorter stop and staying out front to the flag.

Porsche now has its first overall 1-2 finish in the FIA WEC since, surprisingly, Shanghai in 2015. Although Porsche won a number of races in 2016, all of them saw either Audi or Toyota come second.

Toyota was down to a single bullet today almost from the off, with the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima having had a fuel pump issue at the start of the race, and having lost five laps.

While the car made it back to fourth overall it was never in with a shout of a result from there, finishing behind the pair of Porsches and the No. 7 Toyota, in the hands of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and the returning Jose Maria Lopez.

Jackie Chan DC Racing’s dream season in LMP2 continued with its third win in four races for the trio of Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent in the No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson. It was a dominant win in the nearly all-spec class over the No. 31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca and No. 36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 cars, the latter car having got ahead of the second Rebellion in the final hour.

In GTE-Pro, AF Corse’s No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE broke through for its first win of the year, with the new pairing of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado winning their first race as teammates. The No. 71 car of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon won at Spa. This Ferrari victory made it the first manufacturer to get to two wins in the category after Ford (Silverstone), Ferrari (Spa) and Aston Martin (Le Mans) won the first three races.

Porsche’s new mid-engined 911 RSR looked promising after its first WEC pole set on Saturday, but was unable to break through for its first win yet on a global platform. Nonetheless the pair of cars, the No. 91 of Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki and No. 92 of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, completed the podium for Porsche’s first double podium of the year.

Porsche’s older and previous generation 911 RSR did break through in GTE-Am with the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing, the Proton team’s first win in WEC since the Bahrain season finale last year. Christian Ried shared the car with young guns Marvin Dienst and Matteo Cairoli, the latter two winning their first races in FIA WEC. The No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari was second with the No. 98 Aston Martin third to make it three manufacturers in as many positions.

The FIA WEC has another month-plus break before its next race at Mexico City the first weekend in September.

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.”