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Honda expecting ‘another challenging weekend’ at Canadian GP

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Honda Formula 1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa is braced for “another challenging weekend” in Canada as the power-hungry Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal threatens to leave McLaren struggling for pace once again.

McLaren-Honda has failed to score any points through the opening six races of the 2017 season, largely thanks to problems with the power unit supplied by the Japanese manufacturer which lacks both performance and reliability.

McLaren saw its hopes of points in Monaco two weeks ago fade when both Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne retired in the final 20 laps, leaving it at the foot of the constructors’ championship with almost a third of the season complete.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s race in Montreal, Hasegawa was pleased to welcome back Fernando Alonso, who missed Monaco to enter the Indianapolis 500, but did not dress up Honda’s expectations for the Canadian Grand Prix.

“The Canadian Grand Prix is always a special race for us,” Hasegawa said. “It is one of the most vibrant and popular on the Formula 1 calendar, and has a wonderful atmosphere.

“The fans really embrace the grand prix each year. We also have the warm support of our colleagues from Honda Canada.

“After Jenson’s one-off appearance in Monaco, we will have Fernando back behind the wheel fresh from his great Indy 500 challenge. His bid to win in his rookie year came to a disappointing end, but once again Fernando showed what an incredible talent he is.

“He was a contender for victory throughout the legendary race and drove like a seasoned oval racer. I am looking forward to seeing him after his great adventure.

“Despite the beautiful nature of the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, this power-hungry, demanding track will not play to our strengths.

“With its power-oriented nature, stop and start corners, abrasive surface and long straights, it will no doubt be another challenging race weekend for us.

“However, we will keep pushing forward, no matter how tough the challenge ahead.”

Dutch Grand Prix becomes fourth Formula 1 race canceled this season

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ZANDVOORT, Netherlands — The Dutch Grand Prix became the fourth Formula One race canceled this season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, after organizers decided Thursday they didn’t want to play host to an event without spectators.

It was to be the first Dutch GP since 1985, but F1 wants to start the season with no spectators at races.

“We would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands,” race director Jan Lammers said in a statement. “We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year.”

The race in Zandvoort was set for May 3 and initially postponed. Fans who bought tickets can use them next year.

The coastal circuit has been redesigned, with some corners banked to facilitate faster racing.

The other races canceled this year were the season-opening Australian GP on March 15; the Monaco GP on May 24; and the French GP on June 28.

Another six have been postponed.

F1 organizers still hope to reschedule those and hold 15 to 18 races this season, starting in July with back-to-back races at the Austrian GP.