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Mercedes to try new 2018 elements in final 2017 races

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With nothing to lose the rest of 2017 and everything to gain in advance of the 2018 Formula 1 season, Mercedes AMG Petronas will try some new components for 2018 at the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix to wrap this year having wrapped both the driver and constructor’s championships.

In the team’s Brazilian race advance, Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff said the plan is for Mercedes to treat these two races as “the first two Grands Prix of 2018.”

“It might be tempting to think that, with both championships now secure, the pressure is off for the two remaining races of 2017. But that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Wolff said.

“Inside the team, we are looking at the next two race weekends as the first two Grands Prix of 2018. We have two races that we are determined to win in order to take that positive momentum into the winter. There will be no backing off just because the championship business is now done.

“In fact, these next two races speak to every principle that makes us what we are. We aspire to excellence in everything we do, from the first lap of the winter shakedown in Silverstone to the final lap of the post-season test in Abu Dhabi. And every time we race, we race to win. That is the mind set we take to Sao Paulo.”

Mercedes has two more races to continue adding the accolades to its dominance over this four-year reign of winning both championships.

In 2014, Mercedes won 16 of 19 races, and 18 of 19 pole positions, posted 11 1-2 finishes, and Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished 1-2 in the driver’s championship.

A year later in 2015, the stats were nearly identical: 16 wins from 19 races, 18 poles from 19 races, 12 1-2 finishes, and Hamilton and Rosberg again first and second.

Last year, Mercedes enjoyed a somehow even more incredible campaign with 19 wins in 21 races, 20 poles in 21 races, eight 1-2 finishes and again first and second in points, this time Rosberg ahead of Hamilton.

With two races to go, Mercedes is “only” at 11 wins, 13 poles, and just three 1-2 finishes through the first 18 races. Hamilton has clinched the championship but Valtteri Bottas is third, and needs to make up 15 points on Sebastian Vettel to keep the 1-2 finish in the championship streak alive.

Although Vettel won four straight titles with Red Bull from 2010 through 2013, Red Bull never had its two drivers end 1-2 in the championship. Mark Webber ended third in 2010, 2011 and 2013, and sixth in 2012.

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.