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Palmer: Speculation about F1 future ‘nothing new’

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Jolyon Palmer says he is taking no notice of speculation about his Formula 1 future with Renault, instead preferring to focus on improving his displays and ending his point-less start to the year.

2014 GP2 champion Palmer stepped up to F1 with Renault last year, but scored just a single point throughout his rookie campaign courtesy of a P10 finish in Malaysia.

Palmer was retained for 2017 alongside Nico Hulkenberg, who has already racked up 14 points for Renault, with the Briton yet to contribute to this haul.

Speculation has been bubbling in recent weeks that Renault could replace Palmer mid-season, with development driver Sergey Sirotkin and recent F1 racer Felipe Nasr linked to the seat.

When asked if he felt under more pressure due to the speculation, Palmer said the only problems could be self-induced as he takes no notice of the rumors.

“What puts pressure on is not putting in good performances,” Palmer said.

“I’m aware that the start of the year has been pretty disappointing. I’m working hard and I’m ready to turn it around.

“In terms of the rumors, there’s been rumors since my third ever race in Formula 1, so there’s nothing new for me.

“Of course the way to stop it is to do well on-track and hopefully I can do that this weekend.”

Palmer picked up his best result of the F1 season so far in Monaco last time out, finishing 11th, which offered him a lift after a rough start to the year.

“It is a confidence boost. Obviously it’s been a very tough start to the year, but there’s been some positives recently, even if it doesn’t necessarily show on the results sheet,” Palmer said.

“But Monaco at least yeah, a race distance and we were pretty competitive in terms of times as well. But obviously when you start 16th, it’s difficult to make any overtakes or do much else, running around in the traffic.

“But at least with a better pace and we could take a bit of confidence in here.”

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.