Starting grid for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix

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Come rain or shine, Mercedes remains the team to beat in 2014 after Lewis Hamilton scored his 34th career pole position yesterday in a wet qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

The British driver managed to tame the tricky conditions brilliantly on Saturday to finish six-tenths of a second clear of nearest rival Daniel Ricciardo. With this result, Hamilton broke the record for pole positions by a British driver in Formula 1, moving clear of two-time world champion Jim Clark and into fourth place on the all-time list.

However, it was not all good news for Mercedes as Nico Rosberg made two uncharacteristic errors in Q3 to cost himself a shot at making the front row. The German driver was forced to settle for fourth place on the grid, and he was far from pleased on Saturday afternoon. The Silver Arrows were split by both Red Bulls as Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel qualified second and third respectively.

Fernando Alonso will line up behind Rosberg on the grid alongside former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa. Williams has finally found the solution to its wet weather woes, with Valtteri Bottas also making the top ten. The Finn will start behind Massa in seventh.

The big casualties of Q2 were Kimi Raikkonen (11th), Jenson Button (12th) and Kevin Magnussen (15th), whilst Bahrain podium finisher Sergio Perez could only finish in 16th. It was clear that the wet conditions shook up the pecking order and gave more than a few drivers a headache.

FROM THE STEWARDS’ OFFICE

  • Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado was due to serve a five place grid penalty after flipping Esteban Gutierrez during the Bahrain Grand Prix two weeks ago. However, he failed to set a time in qualifying due to an engine problem suffered during FP3 on Saturday morning.
  • Therefore, the stewards had to grant permission to Maldonado to race as he technically failed to make the 107% time required to qualify. However, he did complete a lap that was well within this time during first practice on Friday. He will therefore be allowed to start the race from last position.

2014 CHINESE GRAND PRIX STARTING GRID

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6. Felipe Massa Williams
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus
11. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
12. Jenson Button McLaren
13. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
14. Adrian Sutil Sauber
15. Kevin Magnussen McLaren
16. Sergio Perez Force India
17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
18. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia
20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham
21. Max Chilton Marussia
22. Pastor Maldonado Lotus

You can watch the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30am ET.

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.