Daniel Ricciardo: It’s a responsibility to carry out team orders

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The matter of team orders has flared up in the Red Bull camp recently with four-time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel having been asked to move over for Daniel Ricciardo in the last two Grand Prix.

But Vettel touched off a bit of controversy when he replied “tough luck” to that order during the Chinese Grand Prix before letting Ricciardo go by a couple of laps later.

Vettel later said that he allowed Ricciardo to pass him once he realized they were on different tire strategies, and Ricciardo did his best to downplay suggestions of problems between him and Vettel.

However, Ricciardo has told The West Australian newspaper that since such situations are talked about in pre-race team meetings, he feels that he has to accept team orders.

“It is our responsibility to obey it, unless it’s completely out of order and then we can obviously try and put up a fight and give our reasons,” he told the paper. “But the team are doing all the calculations on pit wall during the race and you have to respect what they’re saying.

“It’s not always nice if you are being told to move over. It’s not nice being that slower car, it’s frustrating.”

While Vettel remains ahead of Ricciardo in the driver’s championship, the latter’s performance has caused some to wonder if the champ’s starting to lose his edge.

In the first four event, Ricciardo’s outqualified Vettel, 3-1, and has out-pointed him in the last two races – finishing fourth at both Bahrain and Shanghai against Vettel’s results of sixth and fifth.

For his part, Ricciardo is hopeful that should this trend continue, any possible tension will not reach an unhealthy level and that he shall get a “fair fight” with the German.

“I want to race the best version of Seb and he wants to race the best version of me,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think we’ll both respect whoever’s done a better job.

“Deep, deep down none of us like losing. If Seb’s done a better job this year, I won’t like it, but I’ll definitely respect him for it and give him the credit he deserves.”

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.