Andretti encouraged by Haas F1 project, has doubts about Vegas race


American racing legend Mario Andretti feels that Gene Haas’ proposed entry to Formula 1 will do a great deal of good for raising the sport’s profile in the United States, but has doubts about a second temporary race in Las Vegas or New Jersey.

Haas F1 Team is set to debut in 2016, with a new facility being built for the project. As the sport continues to enjoy a boom in the United States, getting an American team on the grid will only prolong and encourage this.

“It’s great that you have someone that’s making the commitment that’s for real,” Andretti said when asked by MotorSportsTalk about the Haas project. “I think Gene Haas has a reputation in our sport, and if he’s making the financial commitment, then why not? That’s great. I wish him well.

“I hope that his formula and way about to do it is working. He’s certainly doing it a bit differently, but the fact that he’s doing it is positive. I mean, why not? More power to him.

“He’s certainly a credible force and reputable. I hope his pockets are deep enough!”

Andretti also spoke about the possibility of a second grand prix in the United States, feeling that a temporary race at a venue such as Las Vegas or New Jersey would not be successful.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said referring to the mooted race in Las Vegas. “You hear all of this. We heard about New Jersey. New Jersey was announced with a 10-year deal with the governor there. They asked me to attend that event and I wouldn’t because I didn’t have a guarantee. When I talked to Bernie, I said: ‘Is this 10-year deal for sure?’ ‘Well, you know…’ ‘Okay, that’s all I need to know.’

“You have to be very careful about these things. The fact that we’re talking about it is good to some degree. Personally, I’d love to see another permanent facility somewhere – if it’s going to be on the west coast, which is what would make sense – a permanent facility and not another temporary event.

“When you have a permanent facility, this facility keeps earning and keeps working the day after Formula 1 leads. You have a chance to make that business model work. A temporary event? I’m not sure you can make financial sense. It’s too expensive to field a Formula 1 race for just one weekend.

“Unless they know something we don’t know, unless the hotels are chipping in and being part of it… I’m sure the hotels want to make money, they don’t want to lose money. It will be interesting to see what develops there, but I’m always skeptical until I see the real thing.”


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

24 Hours of Le Mans
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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.