Alonso and Bottas cleared by FIA to race in Malaysia

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Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas will both return to action in this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix after successfully recovering from their injuries.

After both drivers failed to take part in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, they were required to pass an assessment from the FIA medical delegate upon arriving in Malaysia ahead of practice on Friday.

Alonso was rested for the first race of the season after an accident during pre-season testing that left him in hospital for three days, with his team, McLaren, claiming that he had been concussed following a sizeable impact with a concrete wall.

However, the FIA confirmed on Thursday that the Spaniard will return for this weekend’s race at the Sepang International Circuit after passing the final medical check.

“In accordance with normal procedures, McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso was this morning examined by the FIA Medical Delegate and Chief Medical Officer at the Sepang Circuit Medical Centre,” a statement read.

“During the examination the driver passed all mandatory fitness tests and has thus been declared fit to race in this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.”

Alonso will be joined on the grid by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, who was forced to miss the Australian Grand Prix after sustaining a back injury during qualifying for the race.

“Following the injury that Valtteri sustained to his lower back during qualifying for the Australian GP, he has been with a leading physiotherapist who has been working with Valtteri and his trainer to make sure he received the best treatment possible ahead of this weekend’s race,” Williams said in a statement.

“The team has always been fully supportive of Valtteri and his determination to return to the cockpit and following final approval by the FIA medical team in Malaysia today, we are pleased to confirm that Valtteri will be back in the FW37 this weekend for the Malaysian Grand Prix.”

As a result, the grid will be back up to its full complement of drivers in Malaysia, although it remains to be seen whether Manor will be able to get out on track and qualify for the race after failing to do so in Australia.

For all of the broadcasting options for this weekend’s race, click here.

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.