Hamilton ready to fight back after China engine issue

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Lewis Hamilton is preparing himself for a fightback in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after an engine issue in qualifying resigned him to the back of the grid for the start of the race.

An issue on the MGU-H on Hamilton’s power unit meant he could not post a time in Q1, leaving him 22nd in the classification.

To compound matters, Hamilton entered the weekend with a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change, making his qualifying misery just the latest low point of a tough weekend.

“Of course, it’s disappointing not to get out there today,” Hamilton said.

“It was going to be a tough weekend anyway with the grid penalty. But these things are sent to try us. No-one wants it easy – at least I know I don’t. We might be in the mud right now – but we’ll dig our way out. We’ve got a great car and the team are doing a great job.

“There are areas we can improve but it’s still early in the season and I know we’ll get there. It’s important that nobody lets their head drop. The best thing we can do is learn from it and move on. I’m sure the guys are just as gutted as I am – but what will be, will be.

“We win and lose together, so we’ll work hard to figure out what happened and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Hamilton last failed to make it past Q1 at the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix before going on to finish the race in third place and beat teammate Nico Rosberg.

“The positive news is that you can overtake here and the car is quick, so hopefully we can get it fixed for tomorrow and have a good race,” Hamilton said.

“I’ve been in this position before. I came from the back of the grid to the podium in Hungary two years ago, so anything is possible. The tires don’t last as well here, so it’s perhaps not as simple as it was in that race.

“But, of course, I’ll give it everything I’ve got to try to get back up as far as I can. We’ll at least get into the points and then I’ll see what I can do from there.

“It’s never over until it’s over.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday.

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

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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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.