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Haas reliability through opening F1 test ‘a lot better’ in 2017

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Haas Formula 1 chief Guenther Steiner says that the team’s reliability has been “a lot better” through the opening test of 2017 compared to its debut outing last year.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous F1 operation onto the grid in 2016, with Romain Grosjean heading up its charge to eighth place in the final constructors’ standings.

Haas ventures into the 2017 season looking to build on a solid first year in F1, and Steiner already feels that it is in better shape following the first test than at the same point in 2016.

The most notable stat from Haas’ first test showing was its mileage. Between Grosjean and teammate Kevin Magnussen, the Haas VF-17 managed 343 laps – the fourth highest for any team in Barcelona.

“Reliability has, obviously, been good. This year we’ve had very few and very small problems,” Steiner said.

“Compared with last year, it’s been a lot better. That is how it should be. Ferrari did a very good job this year with the power unit package. It’s been very reliable.

“The engineers will now go over the data and the comments from the drivers, and out of that we will establish a test plan for next week.

“We know a lot more about the car now than we did four days ago. Now we can make the next step and hone it out, make it better.”

Haas’ early strength in 2017 has also been noticed by new arrival Magnussen, who joined the team from Renault over the winter.

“It’s a really well organized team. We have a good bunch of guys here, good engineers, designers, and Dallara is doing a good job, really really really impressed with them,” Magnussen said.

“They stepped up their game. I wasn’t here last year obviously so I can’t tell really how they did then, but you know the job they’ve done this year with the quality of the car and the components, and the chassis is very nice.”

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.