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Ricciardo quickest in tightly-contested second Mexico F1 practice

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Daniel Ricciardo led Red Bull to the top of the timesheets in second practice for the Mexican Grand Prix on Friday afternoon as all six drivers from the three leading Formula 1 teams were covered by less than half a second.

In an incident-packed session that saw title contenders Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton both hit trouble, it was Ricciardo who rose to the head of the field as Red Bull flexed its muscle at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Taking advantage of the high-downforce setup requirements due to the high altitude levels in Mexico City, Ricciardo was able to turn in a fastest time of 1:17.801 to finish fastest, one-tenth of a second clear of Hamilton in the lead Mercedes.

Hamilton’s session got off to a rough start when he suffered a huge spin exiting Turn 11, and while he avoided any damage, the Briton lost a chunk of track time while his Mercedes team checked his car over.

Ferrari rival Vettel also suffered a setback when the fire extinguisher in his car leaked, leaving a white stain on the back of his race suit and forcing the team into finding a replacement, also leaving him on the back foot.

Vettel was able to get out and complete a qualifying simulation on the ultra-soft tire, lapping two-tenths slower than Ricciardo to finish fourth behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen followed in P5, with Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top six in the second Mercedes, less than half a second off his teammate.

Fernando Alonso led McLaren’s charge by taking seventh, finishing as the lead midfielder, while Force India’s Sergio Perez took eighth, two places ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon as Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg split the pair in P9.

An early red flag period was sparked when Romain Grosjean suffered a sizeable left-rear tire blowout after an issue, leaving debris from his Haas car strewn across the track and ending the Frenchman’s session in the process.

Stoffel Vandoorne also faced a setback in his McLaren early on, with a power issue forcing his engineers to wheel him back to the garage from the pit lane.

Pierre Gasly was, like Grosjean, sidelined by a problem, completing just 10 laps, plus a number of drivers suffered spins due to the low grip nature of the circuit, leaving plenty of questions to be answered in final practice on Saturday morning.

FP3 is live from Mexico on the NBC Sports app from 11am ET on Saturday.

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.