Grosjean hoping for birthday to remember in China

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Romain Grosjean will celebrate his 28th birthday in five days’ time ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, and he is hoping that he can do so in style by securing Lotus’ first points finish of the 2014 season.

A difficult winter marred by financial problems left Lotus on the back foot, and the E22 car was behind schedule thus causing the team to miss the first test in Jerez. At the first round of the season in Australia, completing just over 40 laps was seen as an achievement, but now the team is on the cusp of breaking into the points, and Grosjean hopes that he can do so next weekend.

“Shanghai is not my favourite race of the year, but I will be spending my 28th birthday there so let’s make it good!” he said in Lotus’ GP preview. “It’s quite a particular circuit where it is not always easy to find the right setup and the temperature can also be cold. You never know what to expect, except that there will be a monster traffic jam to get to the circuit!

“I scored my first Formula 1 points at Shanghai in 2012 and scored points again last year when Kimi finished second for the team. So let’s hope that’s a good omen and we can add to the good memories next weekend.”

The Frenchman enjoyed a good race in Malaysia three weeks ago where he finished in 11th place and very nearly picked up a point, but in Bahrain the team once again hit trouble as he finished 12th following a late safety car period.

Although it is a far cry from the regular podium finishes of 2013, reaching the top 10 will be an important achievement for all at Lotus after such a difficult period in the history of the Enstone team.

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. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR 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 would seem right for 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 — to spend 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).