Renault anticipating tough Canadian GP weekend

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Renault Sport director of operations Remi Taffin has admitted that the French engine supplier is expecting a tough Canadian Grand Prix weekend due to the power-intensive nature of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Renault’s power units have been lagging behind those of rivals Mercedes and Ferrari so far in the 2015 season, prompting Red Bull to issue a quit threat over the quality of its engines.

The Montreal circuit is perhaps where any weaknesses in engine performance will be exposed the most, raising concerns about how the Renault-powered teams will fare this weekend.

“We are realistic ahead of this race,” Taffin said. “We’ve put in a great deal of work on reliability and have improved our record in the last two races, but we know that Montreal will be tough for us performance-wise.

“Knowing that power is critical, we have to try to repeat our Monaco approach, which was to optimize each sector individually. Unlike Monaco, however, we also need to assess the right drag/downforce compromise to allow good performance in qualifying and the race.

“We are getting there, and hope we can be closer yet again in Montreal.”

Renault’s main customer team, Red Bull, scored its best result of the season in Monaco two weeks ago by finishing fourth and fifth, but may struggle to beat Williams and Ferrari at a circuit that should suit both teams well.

To make matters worse for Renault, Ferrari and Honda are reported to have used some of their development ‘tokens’ to update their engines for the race weekend in Montreal.

That said, Renault appeared to be in just as bad shape at this time last year when Daniel Ricciardo claimed a shock victory for Red Bull, suggesting that all hope may not be lost.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).