Wolff: Mercedes’ dominance is bad for F1

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Mercedes’ Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff will consider letting drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg run their own races in 2016 if the team’s dominance continues into the new season.

Following the introduction of the new V6 turbo power units at the beginning of the 2014 season, Mercedes has enjoyed one of the most dominant spells of form witnessed in the history of F1.

The German marque claimed back-to-back constructors’ championships with record scores in 2014 and 2015, while Hamilton won the drivers’ title in both years ahead of Rosberg.

As impressive as Mercedes’ dominance has been, many claim that it has caused fans to switch off due to the lack of competition and predictability at the front of the field.

Speaking to British newspaper the Daily Mail, Wolff acknowledged that Mercedes’ success in F1 had caused it to become less popular.

“Our dominance is bad for Formula 1,” Wolff conceded. “It is. It makes the racing boring. It becomes predictable how the result is going to be.

“The sport needs multiple winners. It needs the odd freak result. It needs the underdog to win. The moment you become a dominant force, you suffer and your brand suffers. You become the dark side of the force.

“Our dominance is bad for Formula 1 and it’s bad for us, but what can I do? The only thing you can do yourself is stay humble, keep both feet on the ground, acknowledge that these are special circumstances and it might be different in the future and try to enjoy the moment.”

Mercedes has traditionally enforced strategic parity between Hamilton and Rosberg to prevent either driver from gaining an unfair advantage, refusing requests for changes mid-race on a number of occasions in 2015.

However, Wolff said that he is considering allowing Hamilton and Rosberg to run their own races in a bid to aid the on-track spectacle, relying that it did not impact on Mercedes’ final results and cost the team points.

“We are living in a world where people don’t want anybody to do well,” Wolff said. “It seems that we are feeling happier with the misery of others.

“That’s wrong. If you are happy with the misery of others, it is going to make you miserable, too. That comes back like a boomerang.

“This is still a competitive environment but I’d rather be inspired by somebody who does well. I would rather look up to him than envy him. Even my biggest enemy has a best friend.

“So I want the dominance to continue but if it were to continue like this, I need to think what to do so we do not become the enemy and how we can help the show.

“Maybe it’s about unleashing the two of them completely. Make them have their own strategy cars. That would be a solution.”

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”