Starting grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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He may have just three races remaining in his Formula One career, but Mark Webber proved on Saturday in Abu Dhabi that he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level. The Australian driver produced a stunning lap at the end of qualifying to deny teammate Sebastian Vettel pole position by just over one-tenth of a second as Red Bull locked out the front row for the second time in three races.

Mercedes posed the greatest challenge to the world champions, but both Ferrari and Lotus floundered. The Italian team could only qualify in eighth and eleventh, but both Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso will make up one place on the grid following the exclusion of Kimi Raikkonen from qualifying. The Finn’s car was found to have a technical irregularity that Lotus could not explain, meaning that he will start from the back of the grid.

Following qualifying, there have been two changes made to the grid due to penalties:

  • As mentioned, Kimi Raikkonen was excluded from qualifying for a technical irregularity on his car. However, he will be permitted to start the race from the back of the grid.
  • Jules Bianchi was handed a five-place grid penalty by the stewards on Saturday after a gearbox change. He will start from P21 following Raikkonen’s exclusion.

All of the top nine drivers qualified on the soft compound tire, whilst the rest of the field will have a free choice of starting rubber.

Starting grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

1 Mark Webber Red Bull
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
5 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber
6 Romain Grosjean Lotus
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari
8 Sergio Perez McLaren
9 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
11 Paul di Resta Force India
12 Jenson Button McLaren
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
17 Adrian Sutil Force India
18 Giedo van der Garde Caterham
19 Charles Pic Caterham
20 Max Chilton Marussia
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia
22 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus

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.