Toyota wins WEC season finale in Bahrain

Leave a comment

The Toyota Hybrid team saved their best for last as its No. 8 TS030 Hybrid (pictured, from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans), featuring drivers Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin, scored its first win of 2013 in the World Endurance Championship’s six-hour season finale in Bahrain.

Only two of the five LMP1 cars – the winning No. 8 from Toyota and the runner-up No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler – managed to go the full six hours.

The No. 26 G-Drive Racing LMP2 machine of IndyCar part-timer Mike Conway, John Martin and Roman Rusinov claimed the final spot on the overall podium while netting their fourth class win of the season.

Additionally, ex-IndyCar drivers Martin Plowman and Bertrand Baguette picked up a fourth-place class finish alongside Ricardo Gonzalez that enabled the trio to win the LMP2 drivers’ championship.

The LMP2 team title went to the OAK Racing side after their No. 24 Morgan/Nissan finished second in class with Olivier Pla, David Heinemeier Hansson and Alex Brundle at the wheel.

In GTE-Pro, Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander were victorious in Bahrain for AF Corse, helping secure the class team title and drivers’ title for Bruni after their rivals from Aston Martin Racing lost both their cars to retirements during the six-hour running.

However, Aston Martin wouldn’t come away empty-handed. Their No. 95 team of Nicki Thiim, Kristian Poulsen, and Christoffer Nygaard earned the race win in GTE-Am, while their teammates from the No. 96 squad – Jamie Campbell-Walker and Stuart Hall – came away with the drivers’ title after finishing fifth in class with Roald Goethe today.

A second-place effort from the No. 81 8Star Motorsports team (Enzo Potolicchio/Rui Aguas/Davide Rigon) brought the GTE-Am team title to that outfit.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.