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Magnussen, Palmer unaware of time frame in Renault F1 2017 driver decision

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Renault Formula 1 drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer are both unaware of any time frame in the French marque’s decision on its line-up for the 2017 season.

Magnussen and Palmer joined Renault upon its return to F1 as a constructor at the beginning of 2016, but both have struggled for form with the R.S.16 car.

After taking over the financially-beleaguered Lotus operation, Renault identified 2016 as a year of rebuilding.

Magnussen scored the team’s solitary top-10 finish in Russia, crossing the line seventh, while Palmer is yet to pick up his first F1 points.

Both drivers remain in the mix for a seat at Renault next season, but the team is understood to be keen on signing current Manor driver Esteban Ocon into one of its seats.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, Magnussen conceded that he had no idea how Renault’s deliberations were going, despite previously saying that he hoped to get his future sewn up sooner rather than later.

“I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes,” Magnussen said.

“I’ve read in the press that there’s been a delay and the decision could take a long time.

“I was hoping for a decision between these two races, but clearly it hasn’t come and things are taking longer than I hoped for.”

Palmer was asked about his future in Thursday’s FIA press conference, and he too was unable to give a firm

“I’ll know when I know,” Palmer said.

“I know I’m in the mix but we’ll just see how things pan out.

“Every race from now on is a chance to show what I can do.”

Renault is widely perceived to hold the keys to the 2017 driver market, with the promise of investment from a global manufacturer into a works operation likely to be attractive to some.

Sergio Perez had been linked with a move to Renault, but is expected to remain at Force India for 2017, the Mexican hoping for an announcement by the next race in Malaysia.

With Ocon seemingly bound for one of the Renault seats, it may boil down to a battle between Magnussen and Palmer for the second drive in 2017.

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.