McLaren aiming to set 2015 driver lineup before this season’s end

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McLaren’s duo of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen had a great Russian Grand Prix last weekend, but they still aren’t sure if they’ll be around in Woking next season.

However, McLaren team principal Eric Boullier (pictured, right) said today in a media teleconference that the team is working to have its 2015 driver lineup finalized by Abu Dhabi.

“I hope to sort out our decision on the driver line-up before the end of the season, yes,” Boullier said.

“It’s true that it takes a bit more time than maybe we have to deal with, but it’s still on course to be before the end of the season, yes.”

With current Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso rumored to be re-joining McLaren next year, it would appear that both Button, the former World Champion, and Magnussen, the Danish rookie, are essentially competing for their futures in Formula One.

But at least in Button’s case, Boullier said that the team is fully aware of what he’s worth.

“We know the value of Jenson and we know he is a world-champion-class driver and has been a world champion already,” the Frenchman said. “We don’t need him to deliver an extra job on track in order to save his job.”

Nonetheless, Button’s runs in the last two Grand Prix surely couldn’t have hurt his chances. He finished fifth in a soggy Japanese Grand Prix two weekends ago, and last Sunday in Sochi, he earned a fourth-place result directly ahead of Magnussen.

Boullier appeared to try and empathize with the Brit’s current situation regarding his place in F1, but also maintained that he has to do what he feels is right for McLaren in the year ahead.

“I understand that he may not feel comfortable and he is obviously concerned about his future,” Boullier said of Button. “But again, unfortunately, I’m in charge of McLaren Racing and we have to build the best for the team and drivers are obviously very important for our discussion.

“Jenson is more than considered to stay with us for the long-term, but we are still investigating what we want to do with our driver line-up once we have all the data in hand.”

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.