Kvyat returns to site of Grand Prix weekend debut in Austin

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While Max Verstappen’s promotion has been all the “rapid ascension rage” in recent months, flashback 12 months ago and there was another young driver Red Bull was grooming who made an impressive Grand Prix weekend debut: Russian Daniil Kvyat.

Perhaps overlooked a bit during last year’s Austin weekend as Caterham’s Alexander Rossi had a go at his home Grand Prix in free practice one, Kvyat was one of several other Friday-only drivers getting to participate (Marussia had Rodolfo Gonzalez as well).

The outing was Kvyat’s, then 19, first on a GP weekend with Toro Rosso. He stepped into Jean-Eric Vergne’s chassis and acquitted himself very well – only 0.202 of a second off Daniel Ricciardo’s pace in the other Toro Rosso, and actually ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull.

“I have very good memories of Austin last year,” Kvyat said in the team’s pre-race release. “It was a very exciting time for me and now it’s hard to believe that already one year has gone by since that weekend in America. I feel like a veteran now! It’s a special place for me because that’s where I first was part of a Formula One Grand Prix weekend, even if it was only driving the Friday morning session.”

While within Ricciardo’s time, Kvyat says now he wouldn’t be impressed to be that close. He wants more, obviously, and to be ahead – and in 2015 he’ll have that chance as Ricciardo’s teammate at Red Bull, replacing Vettel.

“I was reasonably quick there, maybe a couple of tenths off Daniel (Ricciardo) although I wouldn’t be happy with that this time round. It will be good to go back there therefore,” he said.

Kvyat praised the track and American culture itself, after just coming off his first home Grand Prix in Sochi a few weeks ago.

“The track itself is very nice, fast with lots of challenging high speed corners, which I like,” he said. “The track has plenty of up and downs with the first section featuring some corners that remind me of Silverstone. I enjoyed going to America last year and I’m looking forward to eating some steak!”

Kvyat has scored eight points this season and generally impressed in the Toro Rosso.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

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.