Vettel upbeat despite engine troubles in Singapore

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Sebastian Vettel’s faint hopes of winning a fourth straight Singapore Grand Prix took a hit in practice when an engine failure forced him to sit out most of the second session on Friday night.

However, the German driver remains upbeat about his chances this weekend, believing that the pace of the RB10 is good around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

In FP1, Vettel finished fourth behind Fernando Alonso and the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. However, after posting his final time at the end of the session, he was ordered to quickly stop his car and pull over at the end of the pit lane. The team then wheeled his stricken vehicle back to the garage with a suspected engine failure.

For most of the second session – some two hours later – Vettel was left sitting out of his car as the team worked to repair the problem. In the end, it was fixed with just 10 minutes remaining, allowing the four-time world champion to complete five laps and post a lap time good enough for fifth place in the final classification.

“Was today unlucky? I don’t believe in good luck and bad luck,” Vettel said. “I think we did a lot in the last few years that was right and we weren’t just lucky then. This year it’s a bit different and we have had some problems, but that’s part of life.

“We have overcome the troubles that we have had and it’s progressively getting better. In terms of pace it’s looking good this weekend. It was important to get a good feel on the super-soft tire.”

Vettel was quick to thank his team for repairing the car so quickly, replacing the engine – usually a four-hour job – in just three.

“The mechanics were pushing hard and changed the engine in less than three hours after FP1, which is a massive job, so thanks to them that I was able to get out in the second session.”

Vettel will not face a penalty for changing his engine as it was his ‘practice’ unit, and the team would have reverted to another one for tomorrow’s running anyway.

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.