Hamilton: Mercedes has “best group of people” to handle new rules

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Formula One’s new set of technical regulations will take some getting used to for all the teams in the paddock, but former World Champion Lewis Hamilton believes his Mercedes team can handle the dramatic changes and come out firing in 2014.

In comments to British F1 broadcaster Sky Sports, Hamilton conceded that there will likely be some equipment problems for everybody but feels that Mercedes, the runner-up in this past season’s constructors’ championship, will be able to get through those.

“I feel confident with what the guys are doing; you just never know what’s going to happen,” Hamilton said to Sky. “The engine’s going to be difficult for people. There’s going to be blow-ups next year I’m sure all around and how we manage that [is going to be key]. But I feel that I have the best group of people to be able to do that.”

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull may have covered all the bases in 2013, but it was still a good year for the Brackley squad as it was able to establish itself as a legitimate World Championship contender with Hamilton and Nico Rosberg leading the charge.

Hamilton remains ever critical of himself, and to be fair, there were a couple of low points in an otherwise solid year for him. However, he tells Sky that he’s been able to shake off rough outings more quickly.

“…Whilst in the moment – while you’re right in front of the camera – it looks like I am really hard on myself,” he said. “I am naturally and I’m really thinking about it days after but I’m over it and want to get to the next race. ‘How can I do it differently? What can I do differently with the car?'”

That ability may prove necessary at some point while Mercedes and the other teams come to grips with the new V6 turbo engines and energy recovery systems on the 2014 cars.

But it’s worth remembering that Mercedes was no slouch in terms of V8 engine power, and if it can bring that power as well as reliability over to its V6, then Hamilton’s faith in his crew could be rewarded.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III