GP3: Alex Lynn wins championship after qualifying in Abu Dhabi

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ABU DHABI – Alex Lynn has been crowned the 2014 GP3 Series champion in Abu Dhabi today after his only possible rival, Dean Stoneman, failed to score pole position for the feature race at Yas Marina.

Lynn entered the final weekend of the season with a 47-point lead, meaning that Stoneman had to enjoy a perfect weekend – pole position (worth four points), two wins and two fastest laps (worth two points each) – to stand any chance to denying his compatriot the title.

However, he could only finish second in Friday’s qualifying session, losing out to German youngster Marvin Kirchhofer by four-tenths of a second in the final standings, handing Lynn the championship.

A member of the Red Bull junior programme, Lynn is in the running for the vacant seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso for 2015, and said after the session that he feels ready to make the step up.

“We’ve known it was coming mathematically since Russia, so clinching the title today wasn’t a massive surprise,” he said. “Really we’re focusing on the rest of the weekend and a strong result in the last two races of the season to help wrap up the teams’ championship too.

“I’m obviously absolutely delighted to finally win the GP3 Series: this title is definitely the biggest result of my career so far. The next step is that we still have a GP3 Series season to finish. I’m determined to enjoy myself and try and win those last two races too.

“But I absolutely I feel ready for Formula 1. If you look at the job that Daniil Kvyat did this year in F1, as reigning GP3 Series champion, it just goes to show how well this category prepares you for the very highest level of racing.”

Lynn’s victory means that drivers hailing from Great Britain have won both single seater series on Formula 1’s undercard. In Russia, Jolyon Palmer won the GP2 championship, and it could yet become a hat-trick for the UK as Lewis Hamilton goes in search of his second F1 world title on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton aims to match Michael Schumacher’s F1 win record

Lewis Hamilton Schumacher record
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton has set many Formula One marks over the years, but few are as significant as the Michael Schumacher record he can match Sunday at the Russian Grand Prix.

Victory for Hamilton at the Sochi Olympic Park would see him draw level with Schumacher at 91 career victories, more than any other driver in the 70-year history of F1.

It also would increase Hamilton’s commanding 55-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in the championship standings, putting him closer to a seventh world championship, matching another Schumacher record.

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History is on the side of Hamilton, who won Sept. 13 at Mugello. He’s won four of the six Russian races so far, and all six were won by Mercedes drivers. His closest challenger is likely to be Bottas, who beat Hamilton in the 2017 edition of the Russian Grand Prix.

Elsewhere in the championship hunt, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s season has gone up in smoke since his Aug. 9 victory at Silverstone. An overheating engine forced the Dutch driver out of the Sept. 6 race at Monza and then a similar problem struck just before the start at Mugello. Verstappen was far slower off the line than the cars around him and was struck by Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.

That leaves Verstappen 80 points off Hamilton in the standings and a 25-point deficit to Bottas.

If Hamilton does win to tie Schumachher at Sochi, more fans will see it in person than any other race in a 2020 season mostly run before empty grandstands because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Organizers say the race weekend is sold out but haven’t given final ticket sales figures.

Race promoter Alexei Titov previously told Russian state TV that the stands would be at 50 percent of their capacity, which equates to around 30,000 spectators.

That’s far more than the previous season high of 3,000 fans for the most recent race, the Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello circuit.

Unlike at the last two races in Italy, there will be a full entertainment program on offer for fans with concerts featuring some of Russia’s most popular musicians.

Russian organizers say they’re taking precautions to keep fans safe and will have medical staff posted at checkpoints around the venue, and that spectators will have their temperature measured on entry.