Verstappen becomes F1’s youngest ever winner in thrilling Spanish GP

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Max Verstappen became the youngest winner in Formula 1 history in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix as he stormed to a famous victory in his first race for Red Bull Racing.

After Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were eliminated in a dramatic first lap crash, the race became a straight fight of strategy between Ferrari and Red Bull.

Both opted to split strategy on its cars, with the two-stopping Verstappen making the most of his rival’s errors to take a historic first win.

Mercedes saw its hopes of continuing its 100% record in 2016 end on the first lap when Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg came together, crashing out in a dramatic incident that is set to stoke the fire between the championship rivals.

Rosberg made the better start from P2 on the grid, sweeping around the outside of Hamilton at the first corner. Hamilton fought back and lined up a move down the inside of Turn 4, with Rosberg shifting his car to the right-hand side of the track to block him off.

Hamilton refused to back down though, moving onto the grass and losing control. His car clipped the barrier before then careering into Rosberg ahead, eliminating both drivers on the spot. The fall-out from the crash is set to follow.

The clash allowed Red Bull to seize the initiative early on. Daniel Ricciardo assumed the lead of the race ahead of new teammate Max Verstappen, who found himself running second in his first race for the team. Carlos Sainz Jr. made a rocket start to sit third for the restart after the safety car period, but could not hold back the charging Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in the first stint.

Ricciardo was the first of the leaders to pit, allowing Verstappen to lead a grand prix for the first time in his career. The Dutchman emerged in second place once he made his stop, with Vettel cutting the gap after a longer first stint to sit third for Ferrari.

Vettel managed to pile the pressure on the Red Bulls throughout the second stint as traffic bunched the front three together: just two seconds separated Ricciardo, Verstappen and Vettel at one point. However, the battle was defused when Red Bull brought Ricciardo in from the race lead earlier than expected, shifting him onto a three-stop strategy.

Ferrari reacted one lap later by bringing Vettel in and fitting his car with soft tires, again notifying a three-stop strategy. This left Verstappen to ease into the lead, seemingly on a two-stop strategy that would give him a real shot at claiming his first grand prix victory.

Red Bull brought Verstappen into the pits just past half-distance, switching him to the medium compound tire that would see him to the end of the race. Ferrari reacted by bringing Raikkonen in one lap later, but now the focus swung to Ricciardo and Vettel at the front as they looked to create a big enough lead over Verstappen to make their final stop work.

Curiously, Ferrari opted to bring Vettel in after a very short third stint, fitting him also with a set of new mediums. The decision left the German with the task of passing both Raikkonen and Verstappen on track, and still with Ricciardo to contend with as he forged a lead at the front.

However, as his tires began to fade, Ricciardo’s hopes of winning the race did also. The Australian found himself losing large amounts of time as the stint wore on, forcing Red Bull into pitting him and putting him on mediums with 22 laps to go. This allowed Vettel to move into P3, leaving Verstappen to contend with Raikkonen at the front of the pack.

Raikkonen was able to close up on Verstappen at the front as the stint wore on, making use of DRS when running within a second of the leader. However, Verstappen managed to pull away once again through the longer corners thanks to the Red Bull’s aerodynamic advantage, leaving the Finn to toil in P2.

All the while, Ricciardo was on a charge. The Australian put his new tires to good use to carve into Vettel’s advantage in P3. Like Raikkonen ahead, he found himself struggling to make a pass as the race entered the final 10 laps. As both he and Vettel caught the leaders at around half a second a lap, the stage was set for a nail-biting finish.

Verstappen was able to keep cool at the front, though. Although Raikkonen continued to lurk around a second behind, the Dutchman did enough to cross the line first and pick up his maiden grand prix victory, becoming the youngest race winner in the history of F1. Red Bull’s decision to drop Daniil Kvyat in favor of Verstappen had immediately justified itself.

Raikkonen crossed the line less than one second behind in P2, while Vettel managed to hold on to the final podium position after Ricciardo was hit with a late puncture, forcing him into a late pit stop. He held on to P4 at the flag, though, such was Red Bull’s pace.

Valtteri Bottas had a lonely race en route to P5 for Williams ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr., who was impressive in his home race, finishing sixth. Sergio Perez finished seventh for Force India, while Felipe Massa recovered from his Q1 exit on Saturday to finish eighth. Jenson Button was McLaren’s sole scorer, finishing ninth as teammate Fernando Alonso retired, while Kvyat rounded out the points for Toro Rosso in P10.

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.