Stroll, Magnussen, Ericsson stand out in midfield in Mexico

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Three performances flew under the radar in the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday in the wake of Lewis Hamilton clinching the championship and Max Verstappen dominating the race.

Lance Stroll snuck up from 11th to sixth, his second-best result of the season for Williams, and moved ahead of teammate Felipe Massa into 10th in the driver’s championship with 40 points scored during his rookie season. The fact the result came on Stroll’s 19th birthday added to the savory day for the Canadian, and solidified Williams’ fifth place in the Constructor’s Championship on 76 points as the team scored for a seventh straight race.

Kevin Magnussen, like teammate Romain Grosjean, had a nightmare qualifying session for Haas with the two drivers only in 18th and 19th on the grid, promoted up a few spots owing to the bevy of grid penalties. But by keeping his nose clean and playing the strategy right, Magnussen made it into eighth, equaling his second-best result of the year for a third time this year. This also aids Haas’ quest to make it to seventh in the Constructor’s Championship with Renault having a double DNF. With two races remaining, Toro Rosso is sixth (53 points), Renault seventh (48) and Haas eighth (47).

Lastly Marcus Ericsson put in a barnstorming early drive, having been promoted to 12th on the grid for Sauber and then running solidly in the top-10 in the year-old Ferrari power unit for most of the first stint until the Virtual Safety Car period. A power unit issue put pause to the Swede’s potential first score of the year, and marked the second straight year Ericsson deserved a point in Mexico only to come up short. On a one-stop strategy special called by Sauber strategist Ruth Buscombe last year, Ericsson finished 11th here last year.

All three drivers reflected on the race when speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race. Their quotes are below, and also in Part 2 of the Mexican Grand Prix post-race Paddock Pass (segment also features Fernando Alonso, who finished 10th).

6. 18-Lance Stroll, Williams

“Yes (to cake). Definitely. We’ll celebrate this evening my birthday and a great result. It was a great race. The whole race was very well controlled. Good first stint on ultrasoft, overcut Perez on VSC, then took it home. I had a great second stint, hunting down Ocon down to the end. Just missed out on an opportunity.

“It got to the point where the harder I pushed, the more I’d overheat the tire. I never quite got in the DRS zone. I got in it once, but he got in it too because of lapped cars. I knew it’d be hard to overtake. We know it’s hard to overtake without a big pace difference. P6 is fantastic for us.”

8. 20-Kevin Magnussen, Haas

“I mean this is like a victory. It’s incredible. We could have easily given up, thrown the towel in the rings. But no one gave up. Everyone knows we’re not the worst team. We’re not meant to be last row. We are meant to be in the points, fighting in the top 10. I’m really proud of the team for that.

“Yeah it was a perfect race. Starting from 15th, it couldn’t have gone better.”

DNF. 9-Marcus Ericsson, Sauber

“Very disappointing. Probably my best race of the year. Had a great first stint, running in the top 10 all the time, then we were very unlucky with the VSC, we pitted two laps before it came out. We lost out to both McLarens and the time.

“It was, yeah. We weren’t overheating, but the turbo was toast.

“It was very important. The last couple races I’ve had strong qualifying sessions and two strong races in a row. This is what I need to show to stay in Formula 1. ”

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.