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Vandoorne scores maiden Super Formula victory at Okayama

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Future McLaren Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne scored his maiden victory in the Japanese Super Formula series at Okayama on Saturday.

McLaren announced last weekend at Monza that Vandoorne would step up to an F1 race seat in 2017, partnering Fernando Alonso.

The 2015 GP2 Series champion has been racing in Super Formula this year as a stop-gap with the Docomo Team Dandelion operation, as well as working as McLaren’s reserve driver, leading to his F1 debut in Bahrain in April.

Vandoorne qualified third for Saturday’s race at Okayama, but rose to second before the start after pole-sitter Kazuki Nakajima lined up in the wrong grid slot, prompting race officials to send him to the back of the field.

Vandoorne shot off the line and sped past new pole-sitter Yuji Kunimoto, moving into a lead he never relinquished before crossing the line almost five seconds clear of the field.

Super Formula is the sixth different championship that Vandoorne has won a race in, following successes in GP2, Formula Renault 3.5, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and the F4 Eurocup.

The anticipation surrounding Vandoorne’s arrival in F1 in 2017 has been great, and is surely only set to grow after this latest victory.

F1: Lewis Hamilton roars back from starting 14th to win German GP, regain points lead

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Heading into Sunday’s German Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton wasn’t given much of a chance after qualifying so poorly (14th) one day earlier.

But in one of the most significant rallies of the 2018 Formula One season, Hamilton roared back to not only win at Hockenheim, but also regain the lead in the F1 drivers championship standings at the halfway point of the season.

Ditto for Mercedes in the Constructors Championship.

“It was so tough out there,” Hamilton told Sky Sports/ESPN. “Conditions were perfect for business time. When it rained, I knew I’d have a good position, but you never know what’s going to happen behind the safety car.”

Despite rainy conditions for part of the race, not to mention wet overall conditions that caused a number of drivers to spin, Hamilton won the 66th race of his F1 career (44th with Mercedes AMG Petronas) in a time of 1:32.29.845 and took home 25 points for his fourth win of 2018.

It’s the furthest back a driver has come from back in the pack to win since Fernando Alonso started 15th and won the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008.

The win comes just a couple days after Hamilton re-signed with Mercedes AMG through the 2020 season, leading him to pay an immediate return on investment, so to speak.

“It’s obviously very, very difficult (to win) from that position and highly unlikely, but you’ve always got to believe,” Hamilton said. “I said a long, long prayer before the race started.

“When we did the parade lap, I could see how much support we had and I just wanted to stay collected and stay calm. The team did such a great job today, the car was fantastic, I’m so grateful.

“I would never have thought you could do something like that today, but I kept pushing and kept believing and it happened, so I really manifested my dreams today. Thanks to God.”

It was also the 125th F1 podium finish of Hamilton’s career.

To make the win even sweeter, Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished second, the first time in German GP history that homeland team Mercedes has finished 1-2.

It’s Bottas’ fifth podium of the season, all being runner-up finishes.

Kimi Raikkonen finished third, 6.5 seconds behind Hamilton, followed my Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg. For Raikkonen, it was his 28th podium since his last win.

Sixth through 10th were Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, Marcus Ericsson and Brendon Hartley.

Kevin Magnussen finished 11th, followed by Carlos Sainz, Stoffel Vandoorne, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso was the last running car, finishing 16th.

Failing to finish (17th through 20th) were Lance Stroll, pole sitter Sebastian Vettel (who made a mistake and crashed), Sergey Sirotkin and Daniel Ricciardo.

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