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Hamilton happy to keep his word, after losing crucial points

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) Lewis Hamilton was happy he kept his word, despite losing crucial points at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton could have taken third place, and limited the points damage after championship leader Sebastian Vettel won the race.

Instead, he let his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas past at the end and the Finnish driver took third, with Hamilton finishing fourth.

He was returning a favor after Bottas had earlier let Hamilton overtake him in order to chase down the Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, who placed second.

But the end result was that Hamilton now trails Vettel by 14 points – rather than 11 – in the title race heading into the month-long summer break. When scrapping for every point, those are valuable.

“I want to win the championship the right way. I don’t know if that will come back to bite me or not,” Hamilton said in the Mercedes motorhome afterward. “I do think today was the right way to do things. Today shows I am a man of my word and that I am a team player.”

Bottas, who is third in the championship and an outsider for the title, was certainly appreciative.

“I don’t think every teammate would have done the swap back going for a podium,” said Bottas, who now trails Vettel by 33 points.

Over the past three seasons, Hamilton endured an often brittle relationship with former teammate Nico Rosberg, who retired from F1 after narrowly beating Hamilton to win last year’s title at the last race.

They feuded on several occasions, and were sometimes openly critical and suspicious of each other. There seems to be genuine harmony between Bottas and Hamilton, even though the British driver accepts it was hard to throw points away.

“It’s more a decision from the heart, probably. The brain is more cut-throat and every point counts,” he said. “I think if you do good things, good things come back to you.”

In the past three years, Mercedes crushed the competition and secured three straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships while Ferrari chased the shadows of the Silver Arrows.

Although Hamilton has won four of 11 races this season so far, and Bottas has won two, Mercedes is experiencing more problems than before. So far this season, there have been issues with tires, with the balance in the car, and now the malfunctioning team radio.

On Sunday, the communication link went down for a long spell, meaning that Hamilton could not inform his team how the car felt.

“I had a lot more pace than Valtteri, but at the time the radio wasn’t working and I couldn’t communicate with the team,” he said. “When you don’t have the radio it’s like driving with a blindfold on. You know your pace but they (the team) don’t know how fast you are pushing and how hard you are pushing.”

The F1 championship resumes at the Belgian GP in Spa on Aug. 27.

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.