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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: What’s up for grabs, points-wise

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With just one round remaining in 2016, the 21st and final race in Formula 1’s longest season ever, there’s still plenty up for grabs in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix beyond just the World Championship.

Here’s a look at the respective Driver and Constructor Championships and what could change on Sunday:

DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP

  • The World Championship: Nico Rosberg will win his maiden World Championship for Mercedes AMG Petronas with a podium finish. Even if he fails to make the podium, he can still win it provided teammate Lewis Hamilton doesn’t outscore him by 12 or 13 more points (right now they’re tied with nine wins apiece; at the moment, Rosberg holds a 4-3 edge in runner-up finishes). Rosberg leads 367-355 going in.
  • Fourth place: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) leads Max Verstappen (Red Bull) by five points, 197-192. If Verstappen overtakes him – which he could do with third place and Vettel fifth or worse – it would solidify the teenager in fourth behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who is guaranteed third place. Kimi Raikkonen has an outside shot, 19 back in sixth, but would need a win and some help to leapfrog this high.
  • Tenth place: With Sergio Perez (Force India, 97), Valtteri Bottas (Williams, 85) and Nico Hulkenberg (Force India, 66) likely to stay in seventh through ninth, barring a shock result, the battle for 10th place sees three drivers separated by only seven points. Fernando Alonso (McLaren, 53), Felipe Massa (Williams, 51) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso, 46) will be scrapping over the minor points in Abu Dhabi and provided one of them can finish in the sixth or seventh range, they’ll likely end P10. Alonso and Sainz have outperformed their machinery this year while Massa has underperformed, although Williams has regressed. The Brazilian will be looking to go out on a high in his final Grand Prix.
  • P13-15: Romain Grosjean (Haas, 29), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso, 25) and Jenson Button (McLaren, 21) are only separated by eight points, but there’s a lesser likelihood of this changing with the three of them having struggled to crack the top-10 in recent races. Positions 16-20 are doubtful to change, again barring any shock result.

CONSTRUCTOR’S CHAMPIONSHIP

  • Fourth place: Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are locked into the top three and thus the highest position that can change here is fourth. Courtesy of outscoring Williams 25-6 in the last two Grands Prix, Force India is poised to capture fourth place, the best in the team’s history since becoming Force India in 2008, after a long time spent in the midfield and back of pack. Down 163-136, it’d take Williams outscoring Force India by 27 to usurp them, which would require Williams finishing third and fourth with Force India outside the top 10 – and that seems a highly unlikely proposition.
  • Sixth place: Possible but doubtful. McLaren leads Toro Rosso here by 12 points – 75 to 63 – for P6. Unless Carlos Sainz Jr. has another heroic drive in him, which we can’t rule out, a fourth place still seems a bit difficult to fathom at this point. A combo drive of Sainz in sixth and Daniil Kvyat in seventh could also do the trick, but since both Toro Rossos have only scored in the same Grand Prix twice since May, that’s an even longer shot.
  • P9-11: With Haas more or less secure in eighth on 29 points, Renault, Sauber and Manor will likely finish in that order on 8, 2 and 1 point respectively. Sauber’s ninth place with Felipe Nasr at Brazil was huge for the team from a potential cash infusion standpoint, to get ahead of Manor for P10 in points. In a dry race, seeing either team score points again is a longshot. But, stranger things have happened.

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.