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F1 2015 Driver Review: Lewis Hamilton

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Continuing MotorSportsTalk’s review of the 2015 Formula 1 season, we bring you the first of our driver capsules, starting with three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 44
Races: 19
Wins: 10
Podiums (excluding wins): 7
Pole Positions: 11
Fastest Laps: 8
Points: 381
Laps Led: 587
Championship Position: 1st

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

What is there to say about Lewis Hamilton that hasn’t already been said? The Briton enjoyed a truly brilliant season, claiming ten wins en route to a third world championship that saw him emulate hero Ayrton Senna.

Hamilton was at his brilliant best at the beginning and in the middle stages of the year, leaving Nico Rosberg answerless. Wins in Bahrain and Canada were particularly impressive, but his finest hour came on home soil at Silverstone. He perfected his tire call in wet conditions to claim an emphatic victory and send the home crowd into raptures, kick-starting a run of six wins in eight races that would be crucial in the title race.

Winning the title in Austin was fitting for Hamilton, given his affinity with the USA, but his greater affinity for partying and being a celebrity caused a downturn in form at the end of the year, as did the better-suiting of the 2016 car updates to Rosberg. Three straight defeats to Rosberg have given the German driver plenty of momentum for the new season.

Hamilton won’t care though. This has been a year in which he has hit new heights both on and off track, living life in the fast lane. Seeing an elite sportsman perform at such a level is something we should relish.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

“Hammer time” rolled on into 2015, and to be honest it seemed the World Championship for him was never really in doubt. The only major hiccup in the opening half of the season came at Monaco, courtesy of a team strategy error, and the only race he really seemed completely on the back foot compared to teammate Nico Rosberg was at Austria.

As it was, the opening nine-race stanza produced a total of 18 podiums between the two of them, and Hamilton ended ahead in six of the nine races. There was enough of an early edge to continue the grasp on the title, and Rosberg failed to win after Austria until his three-race tear with a better comfort level in the chassis to end the year.

It was fitting that Hamilton clinched his third title in Austin, in a country he has embraced, and then fully appreciated the magnitude of the moment. You can say he did too much off track – he certainly shared enough, via his social media channels – but I think Hamilton’s smart enough to understand what to share, now, as a 21st century driver embracing the 21st century mediums.

All the while, he’s got the driving chops to match some of his peers in the past, and must now be fully recognized as an all-time great if he wasn’t already.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

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.