© Getty Images

Even as a GP winner, Spain test gives Verstappen much-needed time to learn

1 Comment

Max Verstappen may have become the youngest race winner in the history of Formula 1 in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, but the Dutchman wasted little time before getting back behind the wheel of the Red Bull RB12 car in Barcelona on Wednesday.

Allocated the second of the two days of test running following the race, Verstappen continued his good form from the weekend by once again finishing at the head of the field.

A fastest lap of 1:23.267 was enough to give Verstappen P1, but the bigger focus was continuing to learn about the processes at Red Bull and get used to the RB12 car following his surprise promotion earlier this month.

In light of his victory, Verstappen’s assertion that he would need time to get up to speed with the RB12 car in the days preceding the race now looks silly – or perhaps acts as an ominous sign of things to come.

“It was good to get back in the car today. The car is good to drive, very enjoyable and we achieved very good mileage,” Verstappen said following his test running.

“We didn’t have any problems and could run the whole day. For me personally it was good to have the opportunity to get even more comfortable with the car.

“I was able to try some new things and find ways to improve my performance. I learned a lot about the RB12 today, which is very, very positive.”

Red Bull head of race engineering Guillaume Rocquelin added: “A big part of the day was for Max Verstappen to keep working with his crew and his team of engineers, just to build up that rapport. We’ve also been looking at the setup options that he prefers.

“I know he’s won a race but ultimately he’s only been with us a week, so there’s still a lot that we need to work on together as we get to know each other.

“We had to go through the various options and evaluate them with Max, see what he likes – things like the layout of his steering wheel and what he wants to see on the display.

“On top of that we had a normal run plan, very similar to yesterday, working on medium-to-long term development of the car. It went well. We did 118 laps despite doing some really short runs for aero-mapping.

“It was a very solid day and, overall, a very solid test with 200+ laps, no issues with the car and a good program of work completed.”

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
3 Comments

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.