Vergne pleased with new Toro Rosso

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Formula One driver Jean-Eric Vergne has praised the new Toro Rosso STR8 following another strong showing in testing, calling it “a better car.”

The French driver had a disappointing first season in Formula One, scoring just sixteen points despite supposedly vying for Mark Webber’s seat at Red Bull. Regardless, Toro Rosso kept their faith in Vergne, and it would appear they are set for a stronger season in 2013.

Vergne was pleased that the changeable conditions did not hinder his running in Barcelona, and spoke about it to the media.

“There were many things we wanted to test and we could follow the programme quite well despite the bad conditions. In the wet I think we were looking competitive. In the dry at the end of the day it was looking more or less OK.”

Vergne did acknowledge that testing is not an entirely accurate representation of where the team stands, but he was pleased with the progress being made.

“The only thing I know is that we have a better car. I prefer to wait until Melbourne qualifying to say anything more.”

Throughout testing, Toro Rosso have been one of the most consistent teams, regularly beating some of the front runners from 2012. Both Vergne and teammate Daniel Ricciardo are looking more likely to battle for points this season, and if they can sustain their pre-season pace throughout the year, Webber may face competition for his seat at Red Bull in 2014.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).