Gastaldi confident Lotus can “open some eyes” in Spain

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Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi believes that the planned upgrades for the E23 Hybrid car could “open some eyes” at next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

The British team has enjoyed a mixed start to the 2015 season, picking up 12 points courtesy of Romain Grosjean after two seventh-place finishes.

A lack of reliability and, in some cases, bad luck has seen a number of further points-scoring opportunities pass the team by, but the Enstone operation remains upbeat heading to the European leg of the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Speaking ahead of next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, Gastaldi said that Lotus has been working hard on the updated parts that are due for the race in Barcelona, and he thinks that the improved performance they offer could surprise many within the paddock.

“We’ve been working hard on improving the E23 and how we use it, whether through the progress made in our technical debriefs, or the parts being fabricated here in Enstone,” Gastaldi explained.

“There’s potential for some things which could open some eyes in Barcelona and then at the next race in Monaco too. It’s fair to say it’s busy times at Enstone.”

Gastaldi was full of praise for Grosjean ahead of the race after his solid start to the season, but believes that there is still more to come from the Frenchman in 2015.

“Romain delivered another textbook driving display in Bahrain and he continues to impress us and other seasoned F1 observers with his on track prowess,” Gastaldi said. “He is very focused this year and this means he’s making the most of every moment in the car.

“We know as soon as we can unlock a little more pace from the E23, there will be even stronger results to come.”

In the sister car, Pastor Maldonado has been less fortunate, and currently sits at the bottom of the drivers’ championship with just one finish to his name, coming home 15th in Bahrain.

“We’re still waiting for those first 2015 points with Pastor and no-one wants them more than the man himself,” Gastaldi said. “Pastor is driving really well and has been the victim of other drivers’ mistakes rather too much this year.

“We know he likes the E23 and can get it to deliver very good pace. Pastor enjoyed great success in Barcelona a few years ago so hopefully that is a good omen for him.”

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.