Hamilton happier than he’s been “for a long, long time” in F1

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MONTMELO – Lewis Hamilton has said that he feels happier than he has been “for a long, long time” in Formula 1 following a near-perfect start to the 2015 season.

The defending world champion has won three of the opening four races of the year, scoring 93 of a possible 100 points to move into a 27-point lead at the top of the championship standings.

For this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, most of the teams are expected to bring a number of updates for their cars.

Although Mercedes is not making widespread changes, Hamilton is confident that the team can retain its advantage at the front of the field.

“I feel confident that the team have done everything we could to be as strong as we can this weekend, and to improve,” Hamilton said.

“I think others will have improved as well. We’ve not come with a ton of upgrades. Lots of the teams just pile on lots of different things. We’ve come with the quality upgrades rather than quantity, so hopefully it’ll be good.”

Hamilton admitted that he is feeling very comfortable in F1 at the moment, believing that he is in even better shape than he was during his 2014 championship campaign.

“I feel very happy with how it’s gone,” Hamilton said. “I left the last race, sitting on the plane, thinking ‘wow, it’s been a great couple of weeks’.

“When you had a year like last year, to continue with it was not easy, to repeat what you’ve done before or even do better, it’s not easy. So far, I think it’s been better than last year, so I’m really happy with it.”

Hamilton has spent some time in the United States over the past few weeks, and was spotted at the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas last weekend.

The Briton admitted that he enjoyed being able to do things such as go to the fight and remain at the peak of his powers for racing on track.

“I’m probably the happiest I’ve been for a long, long time career-wise,” Hamilton said. “Outside, it’s great when you can do things that you want to do which are not distractions, and then you can perform.

“I’m very careful with the things I choose to do, and they don’t come in the way of ultimately preparing for my racing.”

With his contract set to expire at the end of the 2015 season, Hamilton has been engaged in contract negotiations with Mercedes for many months now, but had little new information to give on it.

“There’s nothing really to comment on at the moment,” he said. “However, I have read it several times, so I’m fluent in lawyer jargon.

“It’s been good in that sense because I think when I retire I could write some contracts… so if any of you guys need a manager, I think I could do a good job for you!”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III