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Mercedes hoping to solve its MGU-H issues solved in Spain

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Four wins from four races for Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Nico Rosberg is a perfect start from a results standpoint this season. However, as has been documented, internal MGU-H issues have been less than ideal for the team, which hopes to have its reliability concerns alleviated at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Both of the team’s top two men – Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff and Mercedes Executive Director, Technical, Paddy Lowe – noted the efforts to fix the reliability concerns going into Barcelona this weekend.

“The highest priority is to come back with our MGU-H problem solved, having had a repeat fault over the past two race weekends,” Lowe said in the team’s advance release. “The team has been working day and night to understand it and we’re targeting a clean weekend all round.”

“Assessing our season so far is an interesting task. On the one side, we are leading the Constructors’ Championships by a good margin and our drivers hold the top two positions in the Drivers’ standings. So, realistically speaking, it’s tough to ask for more,” Wolff noted.

“However, it has not been plain sailing and we have had problems that we are working hard to solve. We have rivals breathing down our necks who are relentless in their chase. The longer regulations remain stable, the harder it is to find extra performance.

“We are pushing the limits to ensure we remain competitive – but if you push the limits then at a certain stage you risk stepping over them. The whole team, on both the chassis and Power Unit side, is working flat out to extract every millisecond from our package without compromising reliability. This is a group of great engineers and I have no doubt that they are going to achieve that.”

Wolff addressed how improved Mercedes was on the back of its two most recent race defeats, at Hungary and Singapore last year.

“In Hungary and Singapore last year, we took a couple of big hits. But we came out of those races stronger and we continue to learn from our struggles,” he explained.

“We’re going to see some big upgrades from the different teams and Power Unit suppliers over the next few races, so now is the time we can truly assess the pecking order. Barcelona will be an interesting weekend from that perspective, so we must be prepared.”

Mercedes wrote an open letter to its fans last week, addressing potential conspiracy theories in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s frustration following the Russian Grand Prix.

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.