Mercedes technical chief rejects claims of sabotage

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SUZUKA, Japan (AP) Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe brushed off suggestions that sabotage was behind Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure at last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was leading on lap 41 of 56 at the Sepang International Circuit when his engine blew, handing the race lead and ultimately victory to Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo.

The frustrated Hamilton was furious after the Malaysian race, and hinted at perhaps something more than bad luck.

“Someone doesn’t want me to win this year, but I won’t give up. I will keep pushing,” Hamilton said on Sunday.

With five races left in the season, it will be difficult for Hamilton to make up the deficit to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who holds a 23-point lead in the championship race.

Speaking after Friday’s practice session at the Japanese Grand Prix, Lowe said that wasn’t what Hamilton was suggesting.

“I can’t agree with you that the driver hinted there was sabotage,” Lowe said when asked whether such a thing would be possible. “Lewis has been very clear, certainly with us, that that’s completely out of the question.”

Lowe admitted that the team had let Hamilton down but said any suggestion of sabotage was wrong.

“We’ve had other failures in the year that are very unfortunate and if we were good enough to arrange such sabotage we wouldn’t have any failures,” Lowe said. “It’s a very tough business, Formula One. The engineering is operating right at the boundary of performance and things do go wrong.”

Rosberg has finished second behind Hamilton in Suzuka the last two years. He was fastest in Friday’s practice session, edging Hamilton but only seven hundredths of a second.

A win on Sunday would move the German driver a step closer to his first championship while delivering a serious blow to Hamilton’s chances for a third consecutive title.

Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”