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Vettel surprised, pumped up after charge to Singapore GP pole

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Sebastian Vettel was left running high on adrenaline after producing a stunning final lap in Formula 1 qualifying to take pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday night.

After finishing 11th in practice on Friday, Vettel’s chances of extending his impressive record in Singapore appeared to be fading, only for the Ferrari driver to burst back into life in qualifying.

Vettel trailed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in both Q1 and Q2, but turned things around when it mattered in Q3 to beat the Dutchman to pole position by three-tenths of a second.

Vettel let his emotions go with a long series of shouts and cheers over team radio after his pole lap, and admitted after the session he was surprised by the time he found.

“I don’t know, I struggled also this afternoon. I shouted as loud as [the crowd], it was unbelievable,” Vettel said.

“I’m still full of adrenaline so maybe whatever I say doesn’t make any sense but I love this track.

“The car was tricky but it came alive and it got better and better as the night progressed, so really happy we got it done.”

Despite being the 49th pole of an illustrious F1 career, the lap was widely regarded as being one of the finest for Vettel, coming at a time when the title fight with Lewis Hamilton (who qualified P5) is on a knife-edge.

When asked by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton where the pole lap ranked for Vettel among his best, he said: “I don’t know. I think I need to calm down first.

“I’m very, very happy. That was amazing. It’s an amazing track if you feel the car is coming alive and you can do what you want to.

“I knew we had it in us, it was a bit of a struggle to get there but now I’m just happy.”

With Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo both running Vettel close in qualifying, the Ferrari driver is braced for a tough fight in the race.

“I’m happy we got the car where it needed to be and we take it from there. Tomorrow is a long race but these guys are very, very quick,” Vettel said.

“We had a difficult night yesterday but a better night today and I’m sure the car will be like today tomorrow.

“So it will be better but for sure it will be a close race.”

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
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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.