Kobayashi cleared by stewards after crash with Massa

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Kamui Kobayashi has been cleared of any wrong-doing by the stewards following a large accident at the beginning of today’s Australian Grand Prix.

The Japanese driver, who was making his F1 comeback after a year out of the sport, started from an excellent 14th on the grid for Caterham. However, his race lasted a matter of seconds after crashing into the Williams of Felipe Massa at the first corner and ending both of their races.

Massa was furious about the incident, comparing it to Romain Grosjean’s accident at the beginning of the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix that saw the Frenchman receive a one race ban. Massa suggested to British TV that Kobayashi should receive a similar penalty, and the stewards confirmed that they would be investigating the incident after the race.

However, it transpired that Kobayashi had suffered a brake failure, meaning that he could not stop the car in time to avoid Massa. The stewards accepted this explanation from the team, and cleared him of any wrong-doing in the incident.

“That isn’t how I wanted my first race back to go, and I’m sorry for the team and for Felipe that both our races ended early,” Kobayashi said after the race. “I had a really good start but then into turn one I made contact with Felipe.

“From the initial data it looked like I had a brake system issue which obviously meant I couldn’t do much about the contact and when we got the car back and looked at the information in much more detail it was clear that was the problem.

“After the race I went to the Stewards and they went through the data from the car and confirmed this was the case. We’ll have a close look at what caused that problem and make sure we fix it.”

Kobayashi will be hoping to bounce back from this setback at the Malaysian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

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).