Maldonado annoyed by blame game following on-track incidents in F1

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Pastor Maldonado is annoyed by his constant portrayal as the perpetrator of a number of on-track incidents in Formula 1, believing that the unjustified blame is tarnishing his image and concealing his talent.

Maldonado has been involved in a number of on-track incidents since making his Formula 1 debut back in 2011, earning himself the nickname “Crashtor” as well a website and a Twitter account tracking his escapades.

However, the Venezuelan driver believes that he is often the victim of unfair criticise, being blamed for incidents that he did not cause.

“Yes, I was responsible on some occasions,” Maldonado admitted to Brazil’s Globo Esporte.

“I remember an experience that made me laugh. This year in China, when Jenson [Button] hit the back of me, everyone said I was to blame, because whenever I’m involved everyone says I’m to blame.”

Maldonado was forced to retire after being hit by Button in the closing stages of the Chinese Grand Prix. The Briton was deemed to have caused the incident by the stewards, receiving a time penalty after the race.

“I read some stories that I was responsible and should have been punished by the stewards,” Maldonado said.

“There is always pressure from the media, whether I’m right or wrong. There is always something that tries to conceal my talent and tarnish my image.”

Maldonado also spoke about the collision between Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen at the start of the Austrian Grand Prix, believing that the reaction would have been very different had he been involved.

“Imagine if it was my car in the crash in Austria,” he said. “If I was involved, it would be a big scandal and there would be huge media pressure.

“This kind of thing is normal between drivers in F1. Everyone is competing, everybody wants to gain positions, they all want to do their best.

“Unfortunately it has happened to me not once, but on several occasions.”

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.