Rosberg not worried after Jerez test, but is worried about German GP prospects

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Nico Rosberg was still able to bank more than 150 laps Tuesday in Jerez, the third day of Formula 1’s first preseason test of 2015, despite a brief engine shutdown on his Mercedes W06 around lunchtime.

This was Rosberg’s second day of the test thus far, with two-time and defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton set to take over for the fourth and final day on Wednesday.

The 151 laps completed focused primarily on long runs and pit stops. Rosberg said improving reliability was the goal, and doing more than 300 laps combined between Sunday and Tuesday was an unqualified success.

“Reliability was our main issue over the last year, so our goal for 2015 is to sort this out,” Rosberg said, via a team release. “That is why I can be happy with my first preseason test as I did a lot of mileage on both days.

“Performance-wise I don’t know where we are, but the Ferrari times look very encouraging for them, so it will be an interesting year for Formula 1, I guess.”

However, Rosberg was not entirely upbeat after the day. The uncertainty surrounding his home Grand Prix – tentatively slated for Hockenheim again, but not confirmed as Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters he is trying to save the race – was a topic of discussion after the day’s running.

“However, I recently heard about the discussions concerning the German Grand Prix and it’s really sad for me and the German fans to hear that nothing is confirmed yet for 2015,” Rosberg said. “For as long as I can remember, the German Grand Prix was part of the Formula One World Championship, so I really hope our Grand Prix will be held this year and beyond that.

“The fans deserve to have a great show every year because there are so many great supporters out there. Also there is plenty of Germany in F1, with us German drivers like Sebastian, Hulk and myself, plus of course Mercedes-Benz. So I really hope that Bernie and the promoters find a good solution for everybody.”

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.