Sauber plans round of aero upgrades for Spanish GP

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It’s not been the easiest of starts for Sauber to the 2014 Formula One season. The Swiss team has struggled with reliability issues; Adrian Sutil has failed to finish the last three Grands Prix and arguably Esteban Gutierrez’s only moment of notoriety came under unfortunate circumstances when he got speared by Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus at Bahrain.

Caterham and Marussia are yet to score, which was expected, but Sauber and Lotus are both yet to get on the scoreboard this season.

So heading into the Spanish GP weekend, Sauber seeks a turnaround as they plan a weight reduction and substantial aerodynamic updates, per head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara, in a team pre-race release.

“At the Spanish Grand Prix both C33s will have essential revisions, following an extensive weight reduction and a significant aerodynamic update,” he said. “This update consists of a modified front wing and a new engine cover, new side-pod fins and deflectors, as well as a number of other aerodynamic changes. Besides that, we will also have a software improvement which will enable us to use the potential of the power unit in a better way. We expect a busy Friday at the track while tuning the set-up to the new package.”

Sutil has exactly one goal this weekend: Finish.

“We will be travelling to Barcelona with some car updates, which I hope will help us to improve our performance,” he said. “Obviously, I expect more than in the last races. After three retirements in a row, we need to finish this race.”

Gutierrez has something to defend this race, having set fastest lap here last year.

“For us it is an opportunity to improve our level of competitiveness. I have faith in my team, everyone is doing their best,” said the young Mexican. “We are positive and expect to make a step forward. Last year was very positive for me because I did the fastest lap in the race. I am fully prepared to go for the maximum and to get the most out of the car.”

Test and reserve driver Giedo van der Garde will also be busy around the weekend. The Dutchman is expected to run in FP1 on Friday, and he’ll have a full test day a week from Tuesday.

We’ll see if the changes bring Sauber closer to the front of the field.

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.