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Audi WEC technical director Zander returns to F1 with Sauber

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Jorg Zander, the technical director of Audi’s FIA World Endurance Championship operation, will return to Formula 1 in 2017 with Sauber.

Audi announced last week that it would be pulling the plug on its FIA WEC team at the end of the season in order to focus its efforts on Formula E moving forward.

On Monday, Sauber confirmed Zander’s appointment.

“I am delighted to return to the Sauber F1 Team in my adopted home country of Switzerland,” Zander said. “After many years at the top level in endurance motorsport, I am very pleased to become Technical Director and to undertake the challenge with Monisha Kaltenborn, the team, all the outstanding engineers and mechanics in the new era of Formula 1.

“The new Formula 1 regulations offer a great opportunity to point the way with innovations and technical creativity. One of my tasks will be to define a stable and efficient technical organization that evolves the potential of creativity and, therefore, the basis for the development of successful Formula 1 cars. Initially we obviously want to improve and establish ourselves as a team in the mid-field. Overall it is a challenge which I await with excitement and enthusiasm.”

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn added, “We are very pleased about the appointment of Jörg Zander as our new Technical Director at the Sauber F1 Team. We are honored that we have convinced such a renowned and experienced technical leader to be part of our team and plans for the future.

“This is a very important step for the implementation of our strategic goals, in order to guide the team into a new and successful era. Zander fits well into our team, he has a lot of know-how in Formula 1, as well as in motorsport in general.

“As Technical Director he will have the overview as well as the responsibility for all technical departments. In our factory in Hinwil he will have the possibilities to work technically at a very high level. We are convinced we will make progress with him. We wish Jörg Zander a good start on his return to Sauber, for which we ensure him our full support.”

Zander, 52, first worked in F1 in 2002 with Toyota before enjoying stints with BAR, Williams, BMW Sauber, Honda and Brawn through to June 2009, when he left the sport to set up his own engineering company.

Zander joined Audi in 2015 as head of technology before becoming WEC technical director for the 2016 season.

The German is now set to return to F1 for 2017 as Sauber continues its recent recruitment drive triggered by Longbow Finance’s takeover of the Swiss team in the summer.

Sauber had been struggling financially for some time, sparking fears in the paddock that it may not make it to the end of the season, but the buyout has secured the long-term future of the operation.

Ex-Williams and Toro Rosso engineer Xevi Pujolar, former Haas and Ferrari strategist Ruth Buscombe and experienced aerodynamicist Nicolas Hennel de Beaupreau have all joined Sauber in the past three months.

Zander will enjoy his final race with Audi in Bahrain on November 19.

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.