Maldonado yet to make decision on future

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Williams driver Pastor Maldonado has insisted that he is yet to make a decision about his future as rumors linking the Venezuelan driver with a move away from the team persist.

Maldonado’s relationship with Williams appears to have deteriorated in recent weeks due to the poor pace of the car, causing him to claim that he “may as well stay at home”. Further to that, a rift emerged with teammate Valtteri Bottas at the Japanese Grand Prix when Maldonado forced the Finn off the track at the third to last corner of the race, gaining a position in the process. However, the Venezuelan driver insists that he has nothing to reveal about his future yet.

“At the moment, I don’t have a decision yet,” he explained. “The decision will be down to me so I prefer to take some more time. I really hope to have the decision before the end of the season, there’s still a couple of weeks to go so we’ll see. I cannot guarantee I will leave the team or I will stay, I will do my best.

“The decision is very important. It’s my third season in my career, so it’s a very important moment professionally for me. I will want to have the best decision for my future.”

However, Maldonado did confirm that he had more than one offer on the table as well as stating that he would like backers PDVSA to follow him to his new team. Lotus team principal Eric Boullier revealed in India that Kimi Raikkonen’s seat would most probably be filled by either Maldonado or Nico Hulkenberg next season, and the money from the state-owned Venezuelan oil company could remedy some of the financial troubles at Enstone, but a recent investigation by the government could put this funding at risk.

“I have some offers at the moment and I’m analyzing that very well,” Maldonado explained. “I’m hoping to have the best decision for myself.

“Many teams are struggling with money, I cannot guarantee that I have or will have money. In my career, I have a strong sponsor in my back which is quite good. If I move, I hope for them to come with me.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.