Force India secures P5 in constructors’ championship, new team best

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Force India has secured its best-ever finish in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship following Nico Hulkenberg’s run to sixth in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

After a difficult off-season that saw Force India combat financial issues and fail to debut its new car until the final winter test, the team has since flourished, picking up regular points and even a podium finish in Russia courtesy of Sergio Perez.

Hulkenberg’s haul of eight points in Brazil on Sunday pulled Force India 47 clear of nearest-rivals Lotus, which with just 43 on offer at the final race in Abu Dhabi ensures that the team will finish fifth in the constructors’ championship, a new best.

“Everybody in the team is delighted that we have secured fifth place in the championship with a race to spare,” deputy team boss Bob Fernley said.

“It’s the reward for all the hard work put in by everyone back at the factory in Silverstone, at the wind tunnel, and here at the track. We have been through a lot this year, but we never let our target out of our sight and today we can celebrate.”

Hulkenberg fought back from a poor start to finish sixth at Interlagos, making an aggressive three-stop strategy work by managing his tires diligently throughout the race.

“The race today was fun, although I didn’t have the best start and got some wheel spin, which dropped me behind [Valtteri] Bottas and [Daniil] Kvyat,” Hulkenberg said.

“Fortunately I was able to get one of those places back with an aggressive early pit stop, but that forced me to do two very long stints on the medium tires, which was the main challenge of the day.

“We made it work, though, managing the tyres and delivering the two-stop strategy. I’m now looking forward to Abu Dhabi and ending the season on another high note.”

Teammate Sergio Perez had a tough race en route to P13, falling behind Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo late on to miss out on a possible points finish.

“It hasn’t been the best of weekends for me,” Perez admitted. “I have struggled to feel comfortable with the car from the start and I feel I didn’t go in the right direction with the set-up yesterday.

“Today was more or less the same so we will need to go back and analyse all the data from the weekend to address the issues before we arrive in Abu Dhabi.

“Today’s result, however, should take nothing away from what has been a great championship so far. The team has now finished fifth, so there are a lot of positives to celebrate.

“I am proud of what we achieved together this season and I am looking forward to aiming even higher in the future.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.