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Valtteri Bottas leads on day two of second Barcelona F1 test

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BARCELONA – Valtteri Bottas took his turn at the top of the timesheets on Wednesday as Formula 1 pre-season test continued in Barcelona.

Bottas finished quickest for Williams with a fastest lap of 1:23.261, set on the super-soft tire with less than two hours remaining in the day as the majority of the teams focused on race simulations.

It proved to be a relatively incident-free day of running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with just one red flag interrupting track time as all but three teams completed over 100 laps.

Bottas was followed in the final classification by defending champion Lewis Hamilton, who took the morning running for Mercedes as it once again split the day between its drivers.

Hamilton mirrored the programme of teammate Nico Rosberg from Monday morning, focusing on quick laps as opposed to race runs, and finished just three-tenths of a second shy of Bottas at the top despite posting his time on the soft compound.

Renault had a rare day without issues as Kevin Magnussen racked up 126 laps in the R.S.16 car en route to third position, six-tenths down on Bottas at the top.

Sebastian Vettel followed in P4 for Ferrari as the Italian marque bounced back from a problematic Tuesday. However, the race simulation pace was notably slower than that of Mercedes, suggesting that the pecking order at the very head of the field will remain unchanged this year.

McLaren’s upturn in fortunes continued as Jenson Button finished the day fifth with 121 laps on the board. A small issue at the end of the morning session cost the team some time, but the new Honda power unit and Mobil 1 fuel update appear to both be working well.

Daniel Ricciardo ended the day sixth for Red Bull, again racking up over 100 laps after conducting a race simulation in the afternoon. Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr. led the way in terms of laps though, completing more than 160 laps – Mercedes-esque mileage – as the STR11 car impressed once again, taking the Spaniard to seventh overall.

Sergio Perez finished eighth for Force India after some late improvements, while Rosberg came ninth for Mercedes. Together, he and Hamilton completed over 160 laps, marking another ominous showing from the defending champion team.

Pascal Wehrlein ended the day 10th for Manor, while Marcus Ericsson was 11th for Sauber and responsible for the only red flag of the day after beaching his car at Turn 4 with one hour remaining.

It proved to be another difficult day for Haas as Esteban Gutierrez completed just a single lap in the VF-16 car. The team confirmed to MotorSportsTalk that there had been an ‘anomaly’ with the engine, suspected to have been caused by over-revving on the outlap.

Testing continues in Barcelona on Thursday with the penultimate day of running.

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.