Confirmed and potential “lasts” to take place in Abu Dhabi this weekend

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As with the end of any racing season, there’s a number of finales within a season finale up and down the grid. Such is again the case for the final round of the 2014 Formula One season in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

Here’s a look through the grid on who/what we know is ending, likely to end or may end:

CONFIRMED LAST RACE

  • Sebastian Vettel with Red Bull. Vettel’s reign atop the F1 world, which yielded four consecutive World Championships from 2010 to 2013 and 39 career wins (38 with Red Bull since 2009), will officially end after a six-year run. He didn’t win the title his first or last years with the team but won the four in-between. Not a bad haul.
  • Daniil Kvyat with Toro Rosso. Think of this as Kvyat’s last weekend in university before graduating to the real world, where the pressure to perform will be greater. With Toro Rosso, he has one last shot to exceed his machinery… with Red Bull, the target shifts from simply scoring points to contending for race wins and podiums.
  • Both Sauber drivers, with Sauber. With Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr confirmed for 2015, this is the last scheduled race for Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez aboard the difficult C33 chassis. Sutil claims he still has a 2015 contract, as does reserve driver Giedo van der Garde, so that could be a potential storyline over the winter – but for now, it’s about seeing whether the SUT/GUT pairing can avoid Sauber’s first scoreless season in its 20-plus year history of F1.
  • Lotus with Renault. As my MST colleague Luke Smith outlined over the weekend, so ends a 20-year run between the team once known as Benetton and Renault before becoming Lotus, but not that Lotus, all the while having some variant of a Renault V10, V8 or V6. Sad this last year has been so fruitless for a team that won championships in both the 1990s and 2000s.
  • McLaren with Mercedes. Along the same lines, 20 years of McLaren and Mercedes dating to 1995 ends this weekend before the team rekindles its Honda relationship. Seems hard to believe, but the team’s double podium in Melbourne this year is McLaren’s only podium trip in either 2013 or 2014. Another case where the ending hasn’t matched the title success in the 1990s. It’s also the final race for Sam Michael, the team’s sporting director, before his return home to Australia.

ALL-BUT-CERTAIN LAST RACE

  • Fernando Alonso with Ferrari. All signs are pointing to the two-time World Champion joining McLaren, but the team’s driver announcement delay until 12/1 keeps everyone waiting.

POTENTIAL LAST RACE

  • Kevin Magnussen or Jenson Button with McLaren. McLaren’s driver delay has done neither of them any favors. Button may be tired of being dragged along; Magnussen risks being in the same position Sergio Perez was a year ago as a young driver given an opportunity, then potentially at the point of losing it after just one season.
  • Jean-Eric Vergne with Toro Rosso. The conundrum for STR is whether to follow its traditional path of having two young guns side-by-side or break tradition and keep the Frenchman, who’s had flashes of brilliance and generally driven better than his results would indicate. Vergne’s hopes to stay have risen in the last few weeks, but there’s still the uncertainty of not knowing for sure.
  • Caterham and/or Marussia. While the hoopla for now with Caterham is its return for Abu Dhabi, many paddock insiders believe this is only temporary. The team’s administrator, Finbarr O’Connell, will be a popular name in news stories this offseason. Marussia’s last start at Russia was notable more for its Racing for Jules mantra. If the team can miraculously make it to Abu Dhabi, that would be one thing, but like Caterham, its long-term future is uncertain at best.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.