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Ocon handed Barcelona F1 test outing by Renault

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Renault Formula 1 chief Frederic Vasseur has confirmed that reserve driver Esteban Ocon will conduct one day of running at the test following the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ocon joined Renault on loan from parent team Mercedes at the start of the season, taking up the reserve and third driver role in support of full-time racers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer.

The Frenchman won the GP3 title in 2015, and is widely tipped to be one of F1’s future stars.

Following the Russian Grand Prix, Renault confirmed that Ocon would be taking part in first practice for the race in Spain, but has now also announced he will share the two-day test with Magnussen.

“Esteban will drive Jolyon’s car for FP1, then Kevin and Esteban will drive in the test,” Vasseur confirmed, before expressing his faith in the somewhat sizeable Renault junior driver academy.

“We saw Sergey Sirotkin do a very good job in FP1 in Russia and we will see Esteban Ocon take to the wheel in Barcelona,” he said.

“Just this week we had Nicholas Latifi complete a vital part of his programme by driving a 2012 Formula 1 car, the E20, at Silverstone. Beyond that, we have the Renault Sport Academy, most of whom will be in action in the support categories in Spain.”

However, Renault has no immediate plans to make any changes to its existing driver line-up as rivals Red Bull and Toro Rosso have ahead of the race in Barcelona.

“We have a strong line-up and one we’re happy with and committed to,” Vasseur said.

“Kevin has performed very well in his return to Formula 1 and Jolyon is approaching his rookie season in a clear and methodical manner.

“It’s true that Jolyon had a couple of races where he didn’t deliver as he wanted, equally this is natural in a driver’s first season; he’s learning and making strong progress.”

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.