Mercedes taking nothing for granted ahead of the British GP

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Mercedes may have dominated the 2014 F1 season so far, but some scares in the last two races have taught the team not to take anything for granted despite its sizeable advantage.

In Canada, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were hit with an ERS failure that caused their pace to drop considerably. Hamilton was forced to retire from the race because of the problem, and although Rosberg managed the issue and came home in second place, it did mark the team’s first loss in 2014 as Daniel Ricciardo claimed his maiden grand prix victory.

Although the team bounced back in Austria with its sixth one-two finish of the season, both drivers were once again hit with a brake issue that left Rosberg relieved to see the checkered flag and claim the race win.

“We were delighted to get another top result in Austria,” team boss Toto Wolff explained. “Our weekend in Spielberg was one of the toughest so far this season, with a qualifying performance which did not match our expectations. To bounce back with another one-two finish was highly satisfying – particularly as our rivals pushed us harder than ever throughout the race.

“This demonstrates once again how crucial it is to remain 100% focused on the task at hand. We can afford no mistakes if we are to achieve our goals, as there will always be someone waiting to punish those mistakes.”

The British Grand Prix takes place just a few miles from Mercedes’ factories, making it a ‘home race’ for those working at the team.

“We now head to Silverstone, one of the highlights of the year for the team,” Wolff said. “For the hundreds of people at Brackley and Brixworth it provides an opportunity to see the results of hard work in action on the track. Our drivers are both particularly strong at this circuit and we can expect another tightly contested battle between the two of them.

“Equally, many of our rivals see this as their home race and will be highly motivated to gain an advantage. There are certain teams in particular who have a record of success here, so we are taking nothing for granted. It is up to us to ensure that our motivation is the highest of all as we look to put on a show for the incredible Silverstone crowds.”

Both Rosberg and Hamilton will be chasing their second British Grand Prix victory next weekend, setting the stage for another fascinating battle between the Silver Arrows at 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.