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Haas F1 encouraged after positive final day of testing


While the first week of testing for Haas F1 Team at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya went rather swimmingly, the second week this week has provided a bit of a reality check on the magnitude of the task.

Turbo issues hampered running on Tuesday and Wednesday but with issues sorted by today, both Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez combined for a day in the VF-16 Ferrari.

The pairing completed 91 laps, the most in any day for Haas thus far this preseason. That brought the combined total to 474 laps this preseason testing, with 281 laps last week and 193 this week.

Grosjean posted the best time of 1:25.255 on Pirelli’s soft compound. He ran 66 laps in the morning with Gutierrez taking over for 25 in the afternoon.

“It was definitely a better day today than the last three days. We made a lot of progress,” said team principal Guenther Steiner. “We sorted our problems from yesterday with our brake-by-wire and got some laps in.”

“Our final day has been very different from the previous days. It’s been a very positive day for all of us,” Grosjean added. “The guys did an amazing job last night to understand the problem with the brake-by-wire. They got it solved for today. It was a big relief to be able to drive the car and drive it well. There are still a few places where we can improve massively, but we’re working on it. I’m looking forward to getting to the first race now. We can fine tune the car there. Let’s go racing, as Gene (Haas) would say.”

Steiner said today’s day of running was sincerely needed as the final tune-up before Melbourne, with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 20.

“This was our last day testing before Australia. We’re as well prepared as we can be at this moment. We had a driver swap this afternoon to allow for some setup changes. It gave Esteban a few more laps before going to Melbourne. It’s been a challenging month.

“We put the car together, went to the test – it’s been day-and-night work. Thanks go to the whole team. They’ve done a fantastic job. See you in Australia.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).