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FIA takes no further action against Vettel for Baku F1 clash

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The FIA has confirmed it will take no further action against Sebastian Vettel for his clash with Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton in Azerbaijan.

Vettel drove towards Hamilton behind the safety car in Baku eight days ago after feeling he was brake-tested ahead of the restart, causing contact between the two drivers with a side-swipe.

Vettel was hit with a 10-second stop/go penalty during the race – the harshest penalty besides disqualification – before the matter was re-examined by the FIA following outcry from a number of figures in the paddock, including Hamilton.

On Monday, the FIA announced that it would be taking no further action against Vettel, respecting the stewards’ decision from the Baku race as the German took full responsibility for the clash and issued an apology.

“The FIA remained deeply concerned by the wider implications of the incident, firstly through the impact such behavior may have on fans and young competitors worldwide and secondly due to the damage such behavior may cause fo the FIA’s image and reputation of the sport,” part of a statement from the FIA reads.

“Following detailed discussion and further examination of video and data evidence related to the incident, Sebastian Vettel admitted full responsibility.

“Sebastian Vettel extended his sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motorsport family. He additionally committed to devote personal time over the next 12 months to educational activities across a variety of FIA championships and events, including in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the FIA Formula 3 Championship, at an FIA Formula 4 Championship to be defined and at the FIA Stewards’ seminar.

“Due to this incident, president Jean Todt instructed that no road safety activities should be endorsed by Sebastian Vettel until the end of this year.

“The FIA notes this commitment, the personal apology made by Sebastian Vettel and his pledge to make that apology public. The FIA also notes that Scuderia Ferrari is aligned with the values and objectives of the FIA.

“In light of these developments, FIA president Jean Todt decided that on this occasion the matter should be closed.”

However, Todt did stress that a repeat of the incident would not be tolerated, and would be referred immediately to the FIA International Tribunal should it occur again.

“Top level sport is an intense environment in which tempers can flare. However, it is the role of top sportsmen to deal with that pressure calmly and to conduct themselves in a manner that not only respects the regulations of the sport, but which befits the elevated status they enjoy,” Todt said.

“Sportsmen must be cognizant of the impact their behavior can have on those who look up to them. They are heroes and role models to millions of fans worldwide and must conduct themselves accordingly.”

After dodging further punishment, Vettel will head to this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix still leading the drivers’ championship by 14 points from Hamilton with 12 races remaining.

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.