Hamilton more comfortable with old clutch setup

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Lewis Hamilton feels more comfortable after reverting back to the old clutch setup on his Mercedes W06 Hybrid car ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Hamilton has been struggling with race starts since the Spanish Gand Prix back in May when he changed to a new clutch setting, and has won just once in the past four races.

The Briton lost the lead of the race from teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg at the start of the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago, citing an issue with his clutch setting for his poor getaway.

Following practice for the British Grand Prix on Friday, Hamilton said that he felt more comfortable after making the switch back to his old clutch setup.

However, he still feels that there is plenty of work to be done as he trailed teammate Nico Rosberg in both practice sessions.

“It’s generally been a good day,” Hamilton said. “Not perfect – and we’ve got some work to do overnight – but the pace is decent. I didn’t have the ideal balance on the long runs and I’ve got a bit of work to do on setup.

“But otherwise it’s all been good. The tires feel strong – it doesn’t take too long to warm them up which is a positive.

“I’ve also gone back on clutch setup which feels really good so far – just like it did in the first few races. So, overall, it’s looking like a positive start.”

Just as he did in Austria, Hamilton said that he felt wary of Ferrari’s practice pace at Silverstone after finishing behind Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel in FP2.

“Ferrari look strong again here and they were right there with us today, so it should be a good battle,” the Briton said.

“Hopefully we’ll find a bit more tomorrow otherwise we could find ourselves in trouble.”

He was, however, encouraged by the support shown by his home fans at Silverstone on Friday who made it to the track in spite of traffic congestion.

“I have to say, the fans have been fantastic this weekend already. The level of support is just incredible – and it’s only Friday! Fortunately the weather has been good so far and I hope it continues that way for everyone out there cheering us on.”

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.