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Verstappen edges clear in Mexico FP3 with Hamilton, Vettel close

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Max Verstappen edged clear of the field in the final Formula 1 practice session ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix as just one-tenth of a second covered the top three teams on Saturday morning at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Verstappen followed up Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s charge to P1 in FP2 by leading the way in FP3, turning in a fastest lap time of 1:17.113 in the final session ahead of qualifying later today.

Verstappen’s time gave him an edge of just 0.075 seconds over Hamilton, who finished second for Mercedes, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was just 0.117s off P1 in third place.

The fight for pole looks poised to extend beyond the leading trio from final practice as Valtteri Bottas took fourth for Mercedes ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen, with the latter taking P6 despite being just four-tenths back from Verstappen at the front.

Force India stamped its authority on the fight to lead the midfield heading into qualifying as Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished seventh and eighth respectively, but the team looks set to be run close by Renault, who took P9 and P10 with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hulkenberg.

Romain Grosjean was able to go some way to making up for his lost time on Friday, completing 22 laps for Haas, but compatriot Pierre Gasly was less fortunate in the Toro Rosso as he suffered an engine failure just minutes into the session.

Despite the team’s best efforts to get the car fixed to head back out, Gasly ultimately finished the session with just two laps on the board, meaning he will enter qualifying with a mere 12 tours of the track under his belt.

Qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET today.

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.