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German GP set to fall off 2017 F1 calendar

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The German Grand Prix is set to be cancelled for the second time in three years after the chief of the Hockenheim circuit confirmed the track will not host Formula 1 in 2017.

Hockenheim previously enjoyed a deal to share hosting of the German Grand Prix with the Nürburgring, with the tracks staging the race every other year to ensure neither made a loss for two straight seasons.

The race dropped off the F1 calendar in 2015 when the Nürburgring was unable to agree a deal with F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, and Hockenheim was unable to step in.

F1 returned to Germany in 2016 at Hockenheim, but the race will now fall off the calendar once again in 2017 after previously being listed as ‘subject to agreement’ for the July 31 weekend.

Speaking to German publication Auto Bild, Hockenheim CEO Georg Seiler said that the proposed deal to host the race contained too many economic risks that the track was unwilling to accept.

“There was no offer in which all economic risks had been excluded, which was always our condition to be a possible venue,” Seiler said.

“This is regrettable, but not surprising, especially since the date was only under reservation and there was no Formula 1 contract for the Hockenheimring.”

Going by the old sharing agreement, 2017 was due to be the Nürburgring’s turn to host the race, but the track told NBC Sports back in July that it would only do so if it was “economically justifiable”.

Ecclestone confirmed earlier this month that he was working hard to keep the German Grand Prix on the calendar for 2017, but was puzzled by the lack of interest in the race from fans.

With Germany set to drop off the provisional calendar, the 2017 schedule will only be run to 20 races at the most, but the future of the Brazilian Grand Prix still remains unclear.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

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.