Rosberg holds on to beat Hamilton and win Brazilian GP

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Nico Rosberg has claimed his first victory in almost four months today after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

The German driver enjoyed a titanic battle with Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton at the front of the field, with the gap rarely growing beyond one second in the final stages of the race as the Silver Arrows put on a show for the fans in Brazil.

A mistake for Hamilton meant that he trailed his teammate by seven seconds at one point, only for the Briton to reel Rosberg back in and come close to a sixth straight victory before falling short at the flag.

In third place, Felipe Massa completed the podium for Williams, claiming an emotional result at his home grand prix behind the two Mercedes drivers in a dry race at Interlagos.

Despite Bernie Ecclestone suggesting that pole position may not be the best place to be, Rosberg made a very clean getaway from the right-hand side of the grid to hold onto his lead at the start. Hamilton managed to keep ahead of the two Williams drivers as McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen jumped up to sixth place at the expense of Sebastian Vettel. After Sauber made a “technical change” on his car, Adrian Sutil was forced to start from the pit lane, joining at the back of the pack.

The high tire wear meant that early pit stops were in order for the drivers, with Felipe Massa the first of the leaders to pit, taking on new medium compound rubber from third place on lap six. In the sister Williams, Valtteri Bottas followed suit soon after, with race leader Rosberg coming in one lap after the Finn.

This gave Hamilton a chance to post a quick in-lap while Rosberg pitted, but he marginally fell short of his teammate, coming out just behind Rosberg who in turn was stuck in traffic. Rosberg managed to use the traffic to drop Hamilton, though, retaking the lead when Nico Hulkenberg made his belated first stop and enjoying a 2.3 second lead over his teammate once he had moved back up into second place.

As the track temperature continued to rise, tire degradation became a real problem for all of the teams, forcing the drivers to carefully manage their Pirellis and keep their pit wall informed of any issues that may have cropped up. All of the front-runners developed blisters on their front tires, but they still managed to keep up a good pace in light of the problems.

On lap 25, the second round of stops began with Massa once again being the first front-runner to take on a fresh set of tires, but the Brazilian was forced to sit in his box for five seconds due to a stop/go penalty for speeding in the pits earlier in the race.

With his front tires crying enough, Rosberg pitted for a second time, allowing Hamilton to take the lead. The Briton posted the fastest lap of the race, and looked set to remain in the lead after stopping due to his impressive pace, only for an uncharacteristic spin at turn four to deal his hopes of winning the race a serious blow. Once Hamilton had stopped, he trailed Rosberg by seven seconds at the front of the field, facing a big recovery drive to win a sixth straight race.

A slow stop for Valtteri Bottas meant that he dropped out of contention for the podium, while Kimi Raikkonen also saw his hopes of a top three finish go up in smoke when a front jack failure for Ferrari in the pits caused him to drop down the order after an impressive first half of the race. It was a worse situation for Daniel Ricciardo, though, with the Red Bull driver retiring from the race on lap 42 due to a brake problem, ending his 15-race streak of points.

At the front though, Hamilton did not ease the pressure on Rosberg, carving into the gap lap by lap to reduce the margin to just 2.3 seconds by the time of their third and final pit stops. Once again, it was Rosberg who blinked first, diving into the pits on lap 51, giving Hamilton a short window to try and cut the gap to his teammate. The Briton took to the pits just one lap later, and although he was unable to retain the lead, he was within one second of Rosberg at the front of the field.

The chase between the Silver Arrows saw them exchange fastest sector times, with the gap rarely going beyond a few tenths of a second. With ten laps remaining, Rosberg still led, but was having to negotiate the traffic ahead whilst keeping an eye on his mirrors that were full of his teammate.

Both drivers began to struggle with tire wear, leaving them looking for what little grip remained whilst fighting for position. Hamilton continued to be quicker in the first sector, with Rosberg then recovering the time in the final two thirds of the circuit to ensure that he stayed ahead as the laps continued to tick down.

In the end, Hamilton simply couldn’t find a way past his teammate, with Rosberg soaking up all of the pressure to win the race and claim his first victory since the German Grand Prix in July. At the flag, the difference was just 1.4 seconds, but it was enough for Rosberg.

Felipe Massa completed the podium in a rather lonely third, having easily beaten McLaren’s Jenson Button. The British driver will still be pleased with the result, though, having finished ahead of world champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Kimi Raikkonen eventually crossed the line in seventh ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas.

As a result, just 17 points will separate Hamilton and Rosberg heading to the final round in Abu Dhabi, and with the momentum from this race win, Rosberg will feel far more optimistic about his championship chances than he did before today’s grand prix.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.