Hamilton leads Magnussen and Alonso in FP2 at Sochi

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After seeing teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg finish fastest in FP1, Lewis Hamilton has hit back in the second free practice session on Friday in Russia to lead the field by over eight-tenths of a second.

The Briton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:39.630 to finish ahead of McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen as Rosberg was forced to settle for fourth place in the standings, some nine-tenths behind his teammate.

However, Rosberg’s fastest time did come on a lap that saw him make a mistake and run wide at the final corner, and as shown by his pace in FP1, he is going to be battling for the race win with Hamilton on Sunday despite this setback in FP2.

The big surprise of the session was McLaren’s pace as both Magnussen and teammate Jenson Button flirted with top spot in the standings throughout the session. Although Button had to settle for P6 come the checkered flag, his long run pace was mightily impressive, and the British team may have a genuine chance of a podium finish in Sochi this weekend.

Ferrari and Williams’ tussle for third place in the constructors’ championship is set to rage on in Russia as both Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas finished inside the top five in FP2.

Home favorite Daniil Kvyat continued to impress for Toro Rosso, with the Russian driver finishing the session in eighth place ahead of defending world champion Sebastian Vettel.

The session was interrupted late on when Daniel Ricciardo pulled over at the side of the circuit with a technical issue, bringing out the red flag. Red Bull is yet to confirm what the issue on his car was, but he could be forced into taking a grid penalty should he change part of his engine.

Although there are no points for practice, both Mercedes and McLaren will be delighted with their form on Friday ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session. Quite whether it will be Lewis or Nico remains to be seen, but their fight is set to rage on in Sochi this weekend.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

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.