Hamilton chasing history in Austin as he vies for third US GP win

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Today’s race in Austin could be a very poignant one for Mercedes driver and F1 world championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Not only could it see him move to within touching distance of his second title, but he could also break Nigel Mansell’s record for the most wins by a British driver in F1.

Hamilton has enjoyed one of the best years of his career in 2014, winning nine races to give himself a 17-point lead at the top of the standings ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg. However, he starts behind his teammate on the front row of the grid at the Circuit of The Americas today.

The Briton now stands on 31 grand prix victories, ranking him joint-sixth in the all-time list alongside Mansell, who raced in F1 between 1980 and 1995. He won the world championship with Williams in 1992 before then winning the CART title one year later.

With victory today in Austin, Hamilton would move clear of Mansell and become the winningest British driver in F1 history, as well as drawing level with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso for fifth in the all-time list with 32 wins.

This would also be Hamilton’s third victory in the United States in just four attempts, having also won at COTA in 2012 and at the last Indy race in 2007.

Hamilton’s record in North America is a mightily impressive one, having won a further three races at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. No driver on the current grid can boast more victories in either Canada or the USA.

The Briton would also draw level with two other British F1 legends on three United States GP victories should he win in Austin today. Jim Clark and Graham Hill won three races apiece at Watkins Glen between 1962 and 1967, with Michael Schumacher being the only driver to have claimed more grands prix victories in the USA, boasting five from Indianapolis.

Finally, today also marks the sixth anniversary of Hamilton’s dramatic world championship win in Brazil, where he overtook Timo Glock on the last corner of the last lap of the last race of the year to deny Felipe Massa the title by a single point.

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.