Button happy with refuelling return, but remains keen to see a tire war in F1

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Jenson Button has given his support to a possible return of refuelling to Formula 1 for the 2017 season, believing that it will mix up the racing and improve the on-track spectacle.

Last week, the F1 Strategy Group confirmed that it was planning to reintroduce refuelling to the sport in 2017 after it was banned for the 2010 season.

Although opinion in the F1 community has been split over the decision, a number of drivers have expressed their support for the move, with Button telling NBCSN how those who raced with refuelling before will support its return.

“I think if you ask Fernando [Alonso], Kimi [Raikkonen], myself, [Felipe] Massa, the guys who were around ten years ago, we all loved refuelling,” Button said.

“It really mixed up the racing. If you had a bad start, you could change your strategy and still get a good result. It was just a lot of fun and it really added something.

“Obviously you had the safety aspect. That’s obviously something that’s very important, and maybe the reason why we’ve gone away from it, but I’m sure there are ways around that.”

Since refuelling was banned for the 2010 season, overtaking figures have risen dramatically, but Button feels that passes meant more without the use of DRS in F1.

“There were a lot of passes on track because people were running completely different fuel strategies,” Button said.

“Also when the passes were done then, it was more of a ‘wow look at that’, it wasn’t ‘he’s waiting for the DRS zone to happen’. 2004 for me was the best year in Formula 1 history.”

Button also said that he would like to see the return of a tire war to F1, given that the competition between current supplier Pirelli and a possible rival would increase the quality of the compounds that are produced.

“There are obvious reasons why Formula 1 has gone in the direction it has, and there are some very good things about F1 right now, but there are some things that need to be looked at,” he said.

“I feel that a tire war, for example, is great for the sport, and you see tire manufacturers at their best when they’re fighting against other tire manufacturers.”

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”