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Palmer eager to learn from tough Chinese GP

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Jolyon Palmer hopes to bounce back from a difficult Chinese Grand Prix weekend by battling for his first points of the 2016 Formula 1 season in Russia next Sunday.

Renault returned to F1 as a constructor for 2016 after six years away, and came close to scoring points in both Australia and Bahrain with Palmer and teammate Kevin Magnussen impressing.

However, the team’s hopes of breaking into the top 10 in China were tempered as it struggled for pace all weekend long, its cars ultimately ailing to 17th (Magnussen) and 22nd (Palmer) at the checkered flag.

“It wasn’t pretty and we’re analysing to make sure we can learn every lesson possible from the weekend,” Palmer said.

“It was certainly a weekend where we struggled so we’re doing everything to understand why. We’ve made good progress and what we can achieve is certainly better than what we saw in Shanghai.

“From my perspective, I’m still learning what exactly I need from this car at different tracks, on different tires and in different conditions.

“We’ve made some good progress dissecting and understanding and this should translate to improvement on track in due course.”

Palmer is a former winner at Sochi in GP2, and he hopes to put this knowledge to good use with a strong weekend.

“My first aim is to get back to a Melbourne level of performance where I was happy with the car,” Palmer said.

“As a team too, we were happy with the level of performance as we were through to Q2 in qualifying and near the points in the race with both cars quite evenly matched.

“I haven’t been able to replicate that in the last couple of races so that’s what we’ve been focusing on.

“We know that Russia won’t necessarily be the very best circuit for us, but I’m focused on my own performance to extract the very most I can from behind the wheel.”

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).